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L-X^ i 


Women Worth Emulating. 



' Oh, let me emulate the good and wise ; 

Gaze on their course, and mark their way, 
Until my mind and soul, like theirs, may rise 
Bathed in the light of Heavenly day !" 




EMULATION is the spirit most desirable 
to arouse in the young. What of per- 
sonal progress and relative usefulness 
has been effected by others, is always 
a valuable and inspiriting study. That 
which we are constrained to approve and admire we 
are led to emulate, even where imitation may not 
be possible. The sterling qualities which made a 
character excellent, still more than the mental 
powers which made it remarkable, convey lessons 
for instruction and encouragement that all can 

It is with this purpose that the following varied 
selections of womanly worth and wisdom are pre- 



sen ted to the young of their own sex, in the hope 
that studious habits, intellectual pursuits, domestic 
industry, and sound religious principles, may be 
promoted and confirmed by such examples. 


Groyilon, 1877. 












HE records of biography are not 
always encouraging to all minds. 
The talents seem so great, the 
education and opportunities so ad- 
vantageous, that ordinary readers 
are apt to say, " Of what use is it 
that I study such a life ? It is 
quite beyond my range, both in 
gifts and graces. Coming from the 
contemplation of such excellence, 
or such training, I am not roused 
but depressed." 

This is not by any means a feeling that should be 
encouraged. There are mental heights we may not 
ever scale, yet it is well to know of those who have, 


and in struggling upward we are strengthened even 
by the effort. As the feeblest climber on a mountain- 
side gets wider views at every step and breathes 
a more exhilarating air, winning some increase of 
vigour by the effort, so we dwellers on the more 
level plain of humanity gain in mental perception 
and moral force, when we contemplate the recorded 
progress of those who have gained the lofty heights 
of scientific investigation, benefited their age, and 
done honour to womanhood. 

One reflection may well reconcile us to the sur- 
passing triumphs of some of whom we read with a 
humbling sense of our own deficiencies, it is, that 
however literary and scientific triumphs may as a 
general thing, must be beyond our range and re- 
moved from our imitation, there is a path which we 
all can strive to tread, and where, when we are yet 
" a great way off," one All-seeing Eye beholds us, 
one Almighty Hand is stretched out to guide us. 
Only let us ask from the depths of our heart for 
help in treading the narrow path that leads to life 
eternal, and it will surely be given ; for " He hath 
promised who is faithful." 

This consolatory, this ennobling thought enables 
us to delight in all the varied manifestations of ex- 
cellence with which the Almighty has benefited the 
world. We praise Him for the beauty He has 
spread around in the natural world, to lead our 
thoughts to Him ; and still more should we praise 
Him for the endowments He has given in the human 


woi-ld, to men and women who have lived and 
laboured and taught among us. 

To see God in all things, and to praise Him for 
all His gifts to mankind, is the hallowed duty and 
privilege of the young Christian. It is in this 
grateful frame of mind that we should read of the 
wise and good ; and if, amid much that is beyond 
our imitation, either in the possession or application 
of special faculties, yet there should be some sweet 
lessons of love and duty that come home to the 
ordinary pursuits and business of life, the interest 
will be increased, and the teaching of the life more 

In the year 1783 there was a healthy, merry, 
beautiful little girl of three years old (the daughter 
of an ancient family) running about on the links at 
Burntisland, on the coast of Fife, opposite Edinburgh. 
Though well born, it was necessary that Mrs. Fair- 
fax should live with great economy during the 
absence of her husband, an officer in the navy, who 
had nothing but his pay to depend on. In their 
retirement, therefore, her little daughter had no 
companions in her own rank of life but an elder 
brother, who went early to the Edinburgh High 
School; no luxurious indulgences, and certainly very 
little attention from servants. She ran about at 
her own will, and made her own amusements. The 
child was not fond of dolls or toys, she found her 
childish pleasures in gathering wild-flowers, wander- 
ing on the sea-shore watching the birds, and the 


sea, and the clouds ; she was truly nature's play- 
fellow, yet always active and willing to be useful. 
Perhaps the first feeling roused in her infant mind 
was love for the feathered race, and tenderness to 
all dumb creatures, of whom she made companions. 
Some banks of thistles and groundsel that inter- 
sected the more cultivated ground at Mrs. Fairfax's 
abode attracted multitudes of goldfinches and other 
birds, and a deep love for them sprang up in the 
child's heart, which remained with her to the end 
of her long life. Happy the child who early learns 
to love and protect the animal creation. It is the 
beginning of good feelings, which soften the heart 
and elevate the mind. 

But little Mary Fairfax, while leading a seem- 
ingly very careless childhood, soon began to be use- 
ful in household matters. At seven or eight, she 
pulled fruit for preserving, shelled peas, fed the 
poultry, and made experiments in bottling goose- 
berries. She was also taught by her good mother 
to read the Bible, and to say her simple prayers, 
morning and evening. Up to ten years of age there 
could not have been any child among the ranks of 
the gentry less instructed in all book knowledge. 
But her physical education was excellent. Plenty 
of exercise and plain food confirmed her health ; and 
for moral culture, strict veracity and great kind- 
ness were the wholesome foundations on which her 
character was built. 

Mrs. Somerville says in her own beautiful and 


simple biographic sketch,* " My father came home 
from sea and was shocked to find me such a savage. 
I had not yet been taught to write ; and although I 
amused myself by reading ' The Arabian Nights,' 
' Eobinson Crusoe/ and ' The Pilgrim's Progress/ 
I read very badly." Being compelled to read aloud 
to her father was, she says, " a real penance" to 
her; but when she was allowed to help him in his 
favourite recreation of gardening, she found a 
pleasure that compensated for her bookish toils. 
At length Captain Fairfax said to his wife, " This 
kind of life will never do ; Mary must at least know 
how to write and keep accounts ; " and so she was 
sent off to a boarding-school at Musselburgh. As 
boarding-schools were then, this was a dreadful 
change to the poor child. Her lithe little form, 
straight as an arrow, which had been used to roam- 
ing the mountain-side, was soon cased in stiff stay^, 
with steel busk and collar to form her shape (deform 
it, more likely); a dreary page of Johnson's Diction- 
ary was given her to learn, and dull lessons followed 
on first principles of writing, and rudiments of 
grammar. She adds, " The teaching was ex- 
tremely tedious and inefficient." 

You young people of the present day, with your 
capital books and excellent teachers, need to be 
reminded of what education was, even for the upper 
classes, in the days of your immediate ancestors. 

* See introduction to the life of Mrs. Somerville, by her 
daughter, p. 20. 


For this reason I have given you this brief sketch 
of the early childhood of one who attained the very 
first ranks among the scientific investigators and 
benefactors of her age, an age, be it remembered, 
eminent beyond all that have preceded it in scien- 
tific discoveries and advancement. There have 
been times when some were mental giants, simply 
because their compeers were pigmies. That was not 
the case in the times that produced the Herscheid, 
James Watt, George Stephenson, Davy, Faraday, 
and a host of others. \ 

The Musselburgh schooldays lasted, fortunately, 
only a year. At the age of eleven, the illness of 
Mrs. Fairfax called her young daughter home ; and 
it pained the child's grateful heart that her pro- 
gress at school was so slight, that when a letter 
came from a relative she could "neither compose 
an answer nor spell the words ; " and she was re- 
proached for having cost so much the school 
terms had been high and learned so little. 

Naturally shy and retiring, no one knew what 
Was passing in the poor little girl's mind ; but she 
well remembered in after-life how she mourned 
over her ignorance, and how intently she desired 
to attain knowledge. This was a salutary state of 
feeling, especially when, as in her case, there was a 
strong spirit of perseverance ; with her, indeed, it 
was so strong that, in her own very humble esti- 
mate of her powers, she always placed perseverance 
as her greatest characteristic. And, my dear young 


readers, it is a great truth that what we call 
" Genius," and talk about vaguely as if it was a 
something that exonerated its possessor from the 
need of patient, careful plodding, is in reality the 
power to take great pains ; to go over and over 
again in some hard study, some toilsome work until 
it ceases to be hard or toilsome. In mental as in 
spiritual things, the Scripture maxim applies 
"Patient continuance in well-doing;" that which 
the word perseverance comprehends, and which is, 
indeed, the true element of success in all things. 

A child who felt her ignorance a sorrow, and 
whose spirit was of the kind indicated, would soon 
overcome her difficulties. She did not allow her 
likes or dislikes to influence her; but with great 
docility resolved to learn all she could. From her 
active habits, needlework was not pleasant to her ; 
and an aunt, in Scottish phrase, once said, " Maiy 
does not shew (sew) any more than if she were a 
man." Nevertheless, she set herself to overcome 
her repugnance, and became skilful with her needle, 
both in plain and fancy work. 

A piano came to her home, and she began to 
learn music, which was then very imperfectly 
taught; but she rose in the morning and practised 
so sedulously that she speedily gained a facility 
which her family rejoiced in, for no accomplishment 
in a country house is more likely to delight a home 
circle. But, unhappily, the shyness of the young 
pianist always prevented her in early days doing 


justice to herself. Meanwhile, she learned to writ.o 
a good hand, and made some, not great, progress in 
arithmetic. The little French she had been taught 
at school she added to by puzzling out and trans- 
lating from French books, by herself, and so almost 
insensibly acquired a reading knowledge of the 

One day, at the house of a friend, as she was look- 
ing in a magazine of a fashionable kind for a pattern 
of ladies' work, she came upon some letters oddly 
arranged- 1 an algebraic problem. Asking the mean- 
ing, she heard the word Algebra for the first time. 
She thought about the word and took every oppor- 
tunity that her great diffidence permitted to get 
further explanation. She was told of the need of 
arithmetic in the higher branches and mathematics. 
She thought that some books in the home library 
might help her, and so she pored over some books 
of navigation ; and though she made very little pro- 
gress in what she wanted to know, she learned 
enough to open her mind to the value of solid 
studies and to interest her in them. Meanwhile, from 
some elementary books, probably her brother's, she 
began to teach herself Latin, and with no help of 
regular instruction learned enough to enable her to 
read Cesar's Commentaries, and to feel an interest 
in her reading. 

Her habit of early rising was her great help, and 
enabled her to pursue her studies unmolested. She 
was very diligent in performing all that she was 


required to do in her daily domestic avocations, so 
that no fault could be found with her for neglecting 
anything required of her in the ordinary pursuits oj: 
life. Thus the lonely little student went on with her 
studies, until her progress was so considerable that 
when on a visit to her uncle, the Rev. Dr. Somerville, 
he found she had grounded herself both in Latin 
and Greek. He gave her books, and what was 
better, a word of encouragement, and she at length 
possessed a Euclid, and advanced into mathematics. 

The word of encouragement must have been in- 
deed precious from its rarity. She was not only 
laughed at but censured for the studies she applied 
herself to; "going out of the female province" was 
then the common phrase of disapproval. Poor girl ! 
it was to her, as it has been to multitudes in the old 
times of darkness and prejudice, a strange thing to 
find that the world recognised ignorance as the 
female province. 

However, she persevered in all gentleness, yet 
with ceaseless energy. No one could say that she 
neglected any ladylike acquirements. Her skill 
with the pencil was so marked that she was per- 
mitted to have some good instruction, and she 
studied under an eminent master in Scotland, 
attaining such proficiency that her paintings and 
drawings during her whole life were much admired, 
and she never, even in extreme old age, entirely 
laid aside that delightful art. Once in her youth, 
on her skill being spoken of in the presence of a 


rather harsh old lady, the latter remarked, with 
more frankness than politeness, " I am glad that 
Miss Fairfax has any kind of talent that may enable 
her to win her bread, for every one knows she will 
not have a sixpence." 

When she grew up and was introduced more fre- 
quently into society, her father having greatly 
distinguished himself in a naval victory, and gained 
promotion, she was much admired, not only for 
her personal attractions, which were a natural gift, 
but for the charm of her manners, her sweet voice, 
"and many graceful accomplishments. Of slight 
figure, small stature, and delicately fair complexion, 
she looked the embodiment of youth and feminine 

She was naturally much sought after, even 
though her severe studies and varied attainments 
were so little understood as to be regarded rather 
as an eccentricity, merely to be treated with indul- 
gence, as the strange caprice of a lovely girl left 
much to herself, and allowed to employ her leisure 
in her own peculiar way. 

Mr. Samuel Greig, a connection of her mother's 
family, and Commissioner of the Eussian Navy and 
Russian Consul for Britain, paid a visit to Admiral 
and Mrs. Fairfax, which ended in his proposing for 
the hand of their daughter, and being accepted. 
Miss Fairfax was then in her twenty -fourth year, 
and the preparations for her marriage were made 
on a scale of economy very unusual in her rank in 


these extravagant days. She says, "Fortune I 
had none, and my mother could only afford to give 
me a very moderate trousseau, consisting chiefly of 
fine personal and household linen. When I was 
going away, she gave me twenty pounds to buy a 
shawl or something warm for the winter. I knew 
that Sir Arthur Shee, of the Academy of Paintings, 
had painted a portrait of my father immediately 
after the battle of Camperdown, and I went to see 
it. The likeness pleased me ; the price was twenty 
pounds ; so, instead of a warm shawl, I bought my 
father's picture." 

It is pleasant to read that soon after she had 
warmed her heart by possessing this treasure, she 
had a gift of furs presented to her by her husband's 

In many sketches of this lady's life it was said 
that her first husband directed her studies, and 
aided her in what became her favourite pursuits. 
This was very generally received and repeated as 
a truth ; but in the work on her mother's life, by 
Miss Martha Somerville, this is positively contra- 
dicted. Mr. Greig is said not to have admired learn- 
ing in women, and that he loved his charming wife 
in spite of, and not for, her intellectual attainments. 
The entire absence of all assumption, her manners 
and conversation, disarmed the prejudice which then 
was felt at any unusual mental gifts. 

It is noticeable that in every period of her life 
this lady was a learner. I think that is why she 


kept her faculties so bright through the long life 
that was granted her. When a young bride in 
London, she took the opportunity of obtaining 
lessons from a French lady, and perfected herself in 
that language. Afterwards she studied German 
and Italian, and all this with the motive of reading 
the works of scientific men in those languages. 

Her married life lasted only three years, and 
she was left a widow, with two little sons, at the 
age of twenty-seven. Shattered in health by her 
trials, she returned to Scotland to her parents' 
house, and found consolation in the care of her 
children, and after a time, in pursuing her studies. 
As she was now independent, no one could prevent 
her so employing herself in her retirement, and 
for five years she continued her scientific re- 
searches. There were none to praise that she did 
not require, knowledge being to her its own re- 
ward ; but there seem to have been many to 
wonder and to blame. However, her kind uncle, 
the Rev. Dr. Somerville, who had first shown his 
sympathy with her tastes and pursuits, always stood 
her friend ; and his son, a medical man, became her 
second husband in 1812, to the great joy of most 
of the family. 

The following, showing the rudeness that pre- 
judice sometimes engenders, is recorded in Mrs. 
Somerville's biography : " I received a most imper- 
tinent letter from one of his (Dr. Somerville's) 
sisters, who was unmarried, and younger than I, 


saying she hoped I ' would give up my foolish man- 
ner of life and studies, and make a respectable 
and useful wife to her brother.' " This strange 
presumption, though it was freely forgiven, yet 
created a coldness and reserve ever after. 

It was a singular fact in the history of Mary 
Fairfax that she was born at her Uncle Somerville' s 
house, and Mrs. Fairfax being extremely ill, she 
was taken by her aunt, who had an infant at the 
time, and nursed by her, and was ever regarded as 
a daughter of the house before she formed the 
marriage which made her so. 

The Rev. Dr. Somerville, speaking of his son's 
marriage, says, "Miss Fairfax had been born and 
nursed at my house, her father being abroad at the 
time on public service. She afterwards often re- 
sided in my family, was occasionally my scholar, 
and was looked upon by me and my wife as if she 
had been one of our own children. I can truly say, 
that next to them she was the object of our most 
tender regard. Her ardent thirst for knowledge, 
her assiduous application to study, and her eminent 
proficiency in science and the fine arts, have pro- 
cured her a celebrity rarely obtained by any of her 
sex. But she never displays any pretensions to 
superiority, while the affability of her temper 
and the gentleness of her manner afford constant 
sources of gratification to her friends." 

The marriage proved in all respects happy. Dr. 
Somerville entered with zeal into all his wife's 


studies ; indeed, he was himself devoted to scienti- 
fic pursuits, both in his profession as a physician 
and in his leisure hours. He was a tender and 
generous step-father to the one surviving son of his 
wife's first marriage. There were three daughters 
of the second marriage Margaret, Martha, and 
Mary. The first, to her parents' great grief, died in 
early life ; the two latter survived to be the tender 
ministers to their mother's declining years, her 
literary helpers, and biographers. 

The life of Mrs. Somerville, from the time of her 
second marriage, is but a happy record of her scientific 
achievements ; and the publication of her valuable 
books. One trouble came a loss of fortune, which 
compelled them to remove from their house in 
Hanover Square, and made Dr. Somerville accept 
the post of physician to Chelsea Hospital, in 1827, 
and take up his abode there. The residence never 
suited Mrs. Somerville's health, but she employed 
herself with characteristic perseverance and cheer- 

In 1831, she brought out her " Mechanism of 
the Heavens." This was followed by her chief 
work, " The Connection of the Physical Sciences," 
which ran through several editions, and became a 
class book at our universities. 

I cannot refrain from mentioning that I met with 
that book in a very remote region. At the little 
town of St. Just, at the extreme west point of 
England, near Cape Cornwall, a Literary and Me- 


chanics' Institution was built, which I visited in 
1850. Being shown into the library, I took up a 
book that was lying on the table, and found it was 
" The Connection of the Physical Sciences/' and its 
worn binding and well-thumbed pages bore evi- 
dence of its having been largely circulated amongst 
working-class readers. I thought it a great tribute 
to the value of the book, and equally an evidence 
of the intelligence of Cornish working-men. 

After some years, these first works were followed 
by her " Physical Geography ; " and when old age 
had settled down upon her, she wrote "Molecular 
and Microscopic Science." Honours came from 
foreign lands, as well as from learned Societies at 
home. She was elected Honorary Member of the 
Royal Geographical Society, the same year that 
a similar honour was conferred on Miss Caroline 
Herschel, the sister and aunt of the two eminent 
astronomers Sir William and Sir John Herschel 
herself no less eminent. The Koyal Theresa Aca- 
demy of Science elected Mrs. Somerville a member ; 
and Geographical Societies, both in Britain and on 
the Continent, enrolled her honoured name in their 

.Her correspondence was very large with all the 
eminent literati of her time, and she enjoyed the 
friendship of the distinguished men and women who 
made the intellectual society of the age. 

A pension of two hundred pounds a year for her 
life was well bestowed during Sir Robert Peel's time 


of office; and, her health requiring change, she 
went to the Continent with Dr. Somerville and 
their daughters. After making many excursions 
to different cities and kingdoms, the family finally 
settled down in Italy. At Rome, Florence, Naples, 
and Geneva, Mrs. Somerville in turn resided, al- 
ways actively employed in every good work the 
anti-slavei-y question, the freedom and unification 
of Italy, the abolition of the horrors of vivisection, 
as practised by foreign surgeons under the specious 
name of scientific investigation, and, alas ! coming 
into our own Schools of Anatomy. Ever this detest- 
able cruelty found in her a stern opponent. Education 
for the poor, and especially a more liberal educa- 
tion for women, called all her energies into exercise 
long after she had reached her eightieth year. 

Her beloved husband, full of years and honours, 
passed away some time before her own death ; but 
though bereaved and stricken, she was patient and 
resigned. Her daughters were not only her chil- 
dren, but her companions and friends one in heart 
and mind. So years passed on, not withering, but 
ripening all the hallowed graces of the mind and 
soul in Mary Somerville. Though she lived to be 
ninety-two, it can scarcely be said that she ever 
lost her youth, her intelligence remaining so clear, 
her spirits so fresh, her sympathies so active* Able 
to read without spectacles, to write to and converse 
with her friends; a slight deafness and a little 
tremor of the hands alone told that the vital 


energy was flagging, while her soul was light in 
the Lord. On principle, she said but little on her 
religious opinions, and never entered into contro- 
versy ; but she was deeply and truly devout. One 
of her last written testimonies was : " Deeply sensi- 
ble of my own unworthiness, and profoundly grate- 
ful for the innumerable blessings I have received, I 
trust in the infinite mercy of my Almighty Creator. 
I have every reason to be thankful that my intellect 
is still unimpaired ; and although my strength is 
weakness, my daughters support my tottering steps, 
and by incessant care and help make the infirmities 
of age so light to me that I am perfectly happy." 

Surely Goldsmith's beautiful simile may be ap- 
plied to this venerable lady, 

"As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form, 
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm; 
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, 
Eternal sunshine settles on its head." 

Without pain or illness, she placidly sank and 
died in her sleep, on the morning of November 
29th, 1872. She was buried in the English Campo 
Santo at Naples. The full history of a life so long 
and so active would be the history of an age. She 
had known all the troubles, wars, and political con- 
tests of the latter part of the reign of George III. ; 
the Regency ; the corrupt reign of George IV. ; the 
better times of King William IY. and his amiable 
Queen Adelaide, who honoured Mrs. Somerville 
with kindly appreciation; the accession of Queen 




Victoria, our beloved sovereign, whose studious 
youth had been familiarised with Mrs. Somerville's 
writings, and whose mental attainments, we know, 
make her interested in promoting the knowledge 
of science and literature among all her subjects. 
Such an indefatigable life, such a genial old age, 
and such a peaceful death, are the lot of few ; but 
we who can but look with admiration on such 
talents may emulate and imitate her virtues. 



" Here will I watch and wait, and ' wish for day.' 
Rock of Ages ! at Thy foot I stay ! 
Let not the dashing waves unclasp my hold ! 
Let mercy's arms my trembling form enfold ; 
And place me where Thy ' hidden ones ' repose, 
Till the new earth and heaven their charms disclose." 


E laws of health are now so much 
better understood than they formerly 
were, and all sensible women and girls 
attend so much more to physical train- 
ing and open-air exercise, that extreme 
delicacy of constitution is no longer con- 
sidered the inevitable inheritance of the 
female half of the human race. A complex and 
highly sensitive organization, it is admitted, re- 
quires extra care both in understanding and obey- 
ing wholesome rules of diet, dress, occupation, and 
relaxation. The three cheap physicians water. 


air, and exercise are wisely held in high repute, 
and employed daily by all who wish to attain or 
preserve that best of all our heavenly Father's 
earthly blessings " a sound mind in a sound 

Still it is a sad fact that inherited maladies or 
constitutional defects do fall to the lot of very 
many of the female sex. The common phrase, which 
has passed into a motto " The suffering sex " 
may have been, and I think was, intended to apply 
to the sympathetic mind of woman quite as much 
as to the body ; though it is more generally under- 
stood as applying to the latter. It still describes 
the physical circumstances of great numbers. Life 
on hard conditions is their lot ; and as no chastening 
in immediate endurance is otherwise than grievous, 
these dear invalids have the tenderest claims on 
our ready help and affection. If they are precluded 
from all activity of either mind or body, the greater 
responsibility is laid on those around them who 
possess the blessing of health to cheer and lighten 
as much as possible the burden of their affliction. 
This is simply a Christian duty ; but like all duties, 
the more diligently and cheerfully it is performed 
the sooner it becomes a delight, and brings into 
the pitying, loving heart of the helpers the blessing 
of Him who " bore our griefs and carried our sor- 

It is however a remarkable and interesting fact, 
that from the chambers of sickness and the couch 


of suffering have come not only some of the most 
beautiful examples of cheerful resignation, but of 
active mental effort. Lessons have been taught so 
sweet, unselfish, and holy, that they have strength- 
ened the healthy and braced the strong in their 
contest with the inevitable cares and trials of life. 

It was while the poet, Miss Elizabeth Barrett 
(afterwards Mrs. Browning), was an invalid, carried 
from bed to sofa for eight years, that she wrote some 
of the most spiritual of her poems and sonnets. The 
experiences in the seclusion of her sick room aided 
the development of her mind and the strengthening 
of her religious principles. Not books merely, 
though she was a great scholar, but solitude, suffer- 
ing, and self-communion matured that fine mind 
and sublimated that sweet spirit, until she might 
be said in her sick chamber to have dwelt with 

A yet more memorable instance of a long life 
of suffering consecrated to the highest uses, was 
shown in the case of the sweetest of our modern 
hymn-writers, Miss Charlotte Elliott. Her life is a 
true poem in its harmony of thought and action, of 
example and precept. No startling incidents, no 
elaborate details, are presented in the very brief 
(too brief) memoir which a surviving sister^gave 
of her life prefixed to a recent edition of her poems ; 
but the account is all the more instructive, because 
God led His faithful servant along the quiet, 
shadowed path, unseen by the world a path soon 


apparently to lead by painful footsteps into the dark 
valley. But the weary way was winding and very 
long, and the end was slowly gained, which was a 
blessing to many. The overshadowing wings that 
were spread as a shelter for the invalid mercifully 
concealed the lengthening road, while soft whisper- 
ings of angel voices echoed through the sufferer's 
soul, and the peace that passeth understanding 
filled her heart. 

Thus a life of more than eighty-two years was 
permitted to one who had from early youth such 
feeble health, that death was often thought to be im- 
pending". Surely in that long sojourn in the outer 
vestibule of heaven, she must have caught a refrain 
of its songs and a rich foretaste of its joys. 

Miss Charlotte Elliott was born March 18th, 
1789, the third daughter of a family that were, at 
the end of the last century, the centre of a circle 
known and esteemed for evangelical principles and 
deep piety. Charles Elliott, Esq., of Clapham and 
Brighton, was her father ; and Mrs. Elliott, her 
mother, was a daughter of the Rev. Henry Venn, 
the pious vicar of Huddersfield from 1760 to 1770. 
The Rev. John Venn, Rector of Clapham, was her 
uncle. Indeed, the members of the families of the 
Venns and Elliotts were well known throughout the 
kingdom as leaders of that evangelistic movement 
which sought, during the last thirty years of the 
past century, to revive and cherish pure, simple 
gospel truth in the teachings of the Church of 


England, and to commend religion to the people as 
a matter of the heart and conscience, not of forms 
and ceremonies, but of inward conviction. 

Born into such a circle, of course the education of 
the gifted child Charlotte was carefully attended to, 
especially in those matters which implant principles 
and form character. Her literary studies were sub- 
ject to interruption from her ill health every winter. 
In the summer months, she rallied, and was able, as 
childhood merged into youth, to visit friends of the 
family; and the sweetness of her disposition, accom- 
panied and embellished by the charm of a mind rich 
in natural gifts, made her very precious to all who 
knew her. 

Early in life her conversation was greatly prized 
by the limited and select circle who were favoured 
to enjoy it. Fond of music and poetry, with fine 
taste, a good memory and active imagination, she 
must have been a most delightful companion, par- 
ticularly as she had been surrounded from her 
earliest years by a home circle whose gifts and 
attainments made them sought and prized wherever 
great talents, consecrated by religion to the highest 
uses, commanded attention or won regard. 

If health was denied, yet all the compensations 
that could be granted in loving companionship and 
intellectual pursuits were mercifully granted. Still, 
those only know, to whom the monotony of the sick 
room is often appointed, how heavy the burden is, 
and how it presses on those who have to bear 


it. Each must bear his own burden, is the earthly 
sentence on the sick and suffering. Happy those 
who can cast their care on the Saviour, and realize 
that He careth for them. 

This sweet experience was not gained without 
an effort, even by so spiritual a nature as Charlotte 
Elliott. Let none of my young readers think that 
the careful training of pious parents, the possession 
of a gentle temper and kindly natural disposition, 
will be enough in themselves, to secure comfort 
during the tedious, wearing trials of oft-recurring 
or long-continued sickness. It needs the special 
grace of a lively faith in all being ordered by a 
heavenly Father's love, before the blessing is fully 
realized that He is near to sustain and comfort, and 
that in the darkest hour His voice sounds in the 
depths of the spirit, " It is I ; be not afraid." This 
triumph over bodily affliction is only gained if, and 
when, it has been earnestly sought ; and so we read 
that there was a time in Charlotte Elliott's early 
youth when she was not in the full enjoyment of that 
hope through believing which alone brings peace. 

Her opportunities of meeting highly-intellectual 
people in circles of fashionable life, though often 
restricted by delicacy of constitution, were yet 
frequent enough to exercise a great fascination over 
her mind, and might have led her to prize worldly 
amusements and intellectual triumphs as a chief 
good ; in which case there must inevitably have 
followed a bitter sense of hardship and loss, when 


she was laid aside and deprived of such amusements 
and enjoyments. But she was mercifully led to a 
higher life. With pathetic truth does she say, 
" He knows, and He alone, what it is, day after day, 
hour after hour, to fight against bodily feelings of 
almost overpowering weakness and languor and 
exhaustion ; to resolve, as He enables me to do, not 
to yield to the slothfulness, the self-indulgence, the 
depression, the irritability such a body inclines me 
to indulge ; but to rise every morning determined 
on taking this for my motto : ' If any man will 
come after me, let him deny himself, and take up 
his cross daily, and follow me/ '' 

It was this spirit of patient endurance and hal- 
lowed resignation that aided her to give to all who 
are passing through deep waters, that perfect hymn, 

" Thy will be done." 

In the year 1821, during a season of great suffer- 
ing, she became deeply conscious of sin a great 
mental conflict distressed her. Ah, my dear young 
reader ! we must know ourselves to be sinners, be- 
fore we can turn with full purpose of heart to Christ 
as a Saviour. The sin-sick soul must know and 
feel that it is sick, before it hastens to seek the Great 
Physician. This part of Miss Elliott's experience 
is of great use to us far less advanced Christians. 
It was this deep need which developed in her mind 
those lovely, yearning, submissive thoughts which 
are expressed in her beautiful hymns. 


Dr. Csesar Malan, of Geneva, on the 9th of May, 
1 822, came to her aid like a heavenly messenger ; as, 
indeed, all are who bring light, truth, and peace to 
our souls. His conversation gave her new views of 
the grace of God in Christ Jesus. That day she 
kept as the birthday of her soul a spiritual anniver- 
sary ever cherished, as also was the friendship and 
correspondence with Dr. Malan for a period of forty 

In the year 1823, many sad bereavements came, 
especially the death of a beloved sister; and it was 
resolved by the family to accept an invitation to the 
Continent, and try an entire change of scene : 
doubtless with benefit to mind and spirit, but 
scarcely with any permanent improvement of health 
to the invalid. 

After an interval of some years, in 1834, she 
formed an acquaintance with Miss Harriet Kiernan, 
of Dublin, a lady of great mental and spiritual 
attainments, who came to England for medical 
advice ; which, to the sincere regret of Miss Elliott, 
proved unavailing, for in less than a year she died 
of consumption. Intercourse with this like-minded 
Christian friend led to Miss Charlotte Elliott under- 
taking the editorship of a little annual volume, 
" The Christian Remembrancer," which for twenty- 
five years she carefully prepared and enriched 
with original contributions, and also with valuable 

The profits of this work, which attained a large 


circulation, and of her other writings, were employed 
in aiding the funds of Christian institutions, such 
as the Bible Society, and kindred plans of spreading 
the gospel ; while her private benevolence was always 
active to the utmost extent of, and, as some would 
think, beyond her means. 

It was in 1835 that she wrote the exquisite hymn 
so justly dear to every humble believer : 

" Just as I am, without one plea." 

This first appeared, among several others, in a 
collection of poems intended chiefly for the sick room. 
With characteristic diffidence, the writer shrunk 
from being known ; and it must have been a hal- 
lowed joy to her to find that she was the honoured 
instrument of impressing, arousing, and comforting 
many. Her hymn was copied out by several of her 
friends and correspondents, and sent to her by 
many who did not know that she was the author. 
It was speedily translated into French, Italian, 
German, and may certainly be considered a priceless 
gem in our rich treasury of devotional lyrics. 

It is scarcely necessary to say that Miss Elliott was 
a most constant and devout Bible student. Passages 
of Holy Wr|t form so often the refrain of her 
poems, that it is easy to see that her mind was 
constantly filled from the pure fount of Bible 

A little passage that she wrote in her own private 
Bible contains a valuable lesson to all : 


" D!g deep into this precious mine, 
Toil, and its richest ore is thine : 
Search, and the Lord will lend His aid 
To strew its wealth from its mystic shade : 
Strive, and His Spirit will give the light 
To work in the heavenly mine aright. 
Pray without ceasing, and in Him confide, 
Into all truth His light will guide." 

When weakness prevented her attending public 
worship, she found a sanctuary in God's word : " My 
Bible is my church," she said. " It is always open, 
and there is my High Priest, ever waiting to receive 
me. There I have my confessional, my thanksgiving, 
my psalms of praise, a field of promises, and a con- 
gregation of whom the world is not worthy pro- 
phets, apostles, martyrs, confessors ; in short, all I 
can want I there find." What a blessing it is that 
this rich treasure, so full of blessing to her, is ours 
also, that the humblest mind may receive a ray from 
that Divine source of all light and life. Her sister 
says hers was, to a great extent, " a hidden life,"- 
hid with Christ in God, we may say. But as the 
unseen violet is known and tracked by its fragrance, 
so the breathings of her soul have come to us in her 
poems, and help to waft our thoughts heavenward. 
We feel that it was by prayer she lived and sang 
her sweet strains. We hardly need to be told that 
she had special seasons of spiritual communion 
with, and prayer for, absent friends ; special times 
for commending works of faith and labours of love 
to Him who alone can send the prospering blessing, 


and who has revealed Himself as the hearer and 
answerer of prayer. 

Thus passed what, to her surprise, as to that of 
her many friends, was permitted to be a long life. 
Many bereavements that of her beloved brother, 
Kev. Henry Venn Elliott, and others came to test, 
but never to shake her faith. Many furnace fires of 
suffering refined the pure ore of Christian principle 
from the dross of earthliness. Many changes to dis- 
tant lands and to various parts of her own country 
were dutifully tried, in search of what was never 
long possessed alleviation of bodily suffering; yet, 
amid all, her soul enjoyed a sweet serenity, and she 
was permitted to reach the ripe age of eighty-two 
years. On the 22nd of September, 1871, she said, 
in reply to one who quoted the words, " Let not 
your heart be troubled," a sweet smile beaming on 
her brow : " But my heart is not troubled " ; and 
then she added, " My mind is full of the Bible/* On 
the evening of that day, at ten o'clock, she sank 
to sleep so sweetly that those around could not 
tell the minute when the earthly repose ended and 
the heavenly rest was won. 




HERE is a hallowed charm in the rela- 
tionship of sister, when its duties are 
tenderly felt and faithfully fulfilled. It 
has often been remarked that young 
men, who have grown up surrounded 
by a group of amiable sisters, or 
even in companionship with only one 
who possessed a loving heart and gentle mind, 
are easily known by their superior refinement 
and their deference to and respect for women. 
" I knew he must have had nice sisters," is a fre- 
quent comment, when the speech and deportment of 
a young man has led to an inquiry as to his family 

I do not say that many a young man has not 
attained mild, considerate, kindly manners who has 
never had a sister ; but I hold that one of the most 



refining educational influences is possessed in fami- 
lies where the affection and innocent gaiety of the 
girls tempers the hardihood and roughness of the 
boys. The two sexes growing up together in the 
household do each other good. The sisters gain 
in frankness, courage, activity, and it may be, in 
solid intelligence, if the boys are conscientious; 
while the brothers become more considerate in act 
and speech, purer and gentler in thought and 
word and action. 

The sweet, strong bond which nature knits at 
birth between the children of the same parents, 
nursed at the same bosom, fondled on the same lap, 
kneeling at the same household altar, ought to be 
able to defy the changes and vicissitudes of life, 
although these affect this relationship more than 
any other. Sons go forth to battle with the world, 
daughters marry and enter upon other and nearer 
ties and responsibilities ; still the heart cannot be 
quite right which does not always retain and 
respond to the first early claims the associations 
identified with childhood. Sad is it when the cares 
of the world obliterate the tender memories of early 
youth, or the pride of life dries up or diverts the 
fountains of affection which welled forth in the 
home of childhood. 

To some true hearts this kindred tie, when it has 
been stretched across wide oceans to far distant 
lands, has bravely borne the strain, and grown the 
tighter by the firm clasp with which at each end 


it has been held. Multitudes might and do echo 
the kindly words of Goldsmith 

" Where'er I roam, whate'er new realms I see, 
My heart, untravelled, fondly turns to thee ; 
Still to my brother turns, with ceaseless pain, 
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain." 

In literary biography there are many memorable 
sisters of distinguished men. The poet Words- 
worth testified as to the . softening influence his 
sister, Miss Deborah Wordsworth, exerted on his 
mind and manners, and the benefit he derived from 
her wise criticisms. From his own experience of 
a relationship that never was interrupted by any 
newer ties on Miss Wordsworth's part, for she 
lived with him until her death, and as long as 
health permitted, devoted herself to his family, 
from tender reverence for this life-long bond of 
love, so precious in his own case, the poet coiild 
deeply appreciate its value ; and he said of the 
quaint essayist and his sister Charles and Mary 

" Thus, 'mid a shifting world, 
Did they together testify of time 
And seasons' difference a double tree, 
With two collateral stems sprung from one root." 

In humble life there have been most worthy in- 
stances of sisterly affection, by which the welfare 
of brothers has been so promoted as to aid them in 
their upward struggle to a higher position of life. 


Catherine Hutton is a memorable case in point. 
William Hutton, the successful bookseller, and 
valued historian of the important town of Birming- 
ham, which now shines like a star in the midst of 
England, passed through as sad an experience of 
suffering and hardship in childhood as was ever 
lived through and triumphed over. 

At seven years of age the poor child was put to 
work in a silk-mill, and being too short for his 
hands to reach the machinery, he was mounted on 
high pattens to pursue his toil. Seven years of 
this slavery passed, and then, the boy being out of 
his time, trade was bad, and he could not get em- 
ployment. He was again bound for seven years to 
the stocking weaving, a relative being his master, 
or rather his tyrant. Taunts and blows were his 
portion in his second apprenticeship. His mother 
was dead, and his father drank; one only heart 
yearned to the motherless boy, and that was his 
sister Catherine's. The poor boy made an effort to 
escape from his tyrant, by running away when he 
was seventeen years of age ; and his narrative of 
his journey, the loss of his bundle of clothes con- 
taining all he had in the world, his sleeping on 
a butcher's block at night, and his subsequent 
famished wanderings, is as affecting as any record of 
American slavery. His brutal uncle was, however, 
brought to own the value of the lad's services, and 
promising to treat him better, William returned and 
served out his time. 


In his few, very few, intervals of leisure, and by 
subtracting from the hours of sleep in summer morn- 
ings, William HuttOn managed to cultivate his mind; 
and growing fond of books, he also began a little 
traffic in them by buying a book for his own read- 
ing and then selling it to obtain another. By tact 
and shrewdness he managed to make a profit out of 
his little trading. It was well that he did; for on 
his being oat of his time as a stockinger though 
he worked two years as a journeyman trade 
was bad and employment uncertain, and so he 
bought himself an old bookbinder's press, and 
taught himself enough of the art of bookbinding to 
renovate the shabby and tattered books which alone 
he had the means to purchase. He took a little 
shop, and his sister Catherine came to live with 
him ; and with tender gratitude he recounts : 

" I set off at five every Saturday morning, carried 
a burden of from three pounds weight to thirty, 
opened shop (or stall) at ten, starved in it all day 
upon bread and cheese and half a pint of ale, took 
from one to six shillings, shut up at four, and by 
trudging through the solitary night and deep roads 
five hours, 'I arrived at Nottingham by nine, where I 
always found a mess of milk porridge by the fire 
prepared by my invaluable sister." 

We can picture the welcome and the smile that 
greeted the weary, foot-sore man, as he entered his 
dwelling, and cannot doubt that to his sister's care 
and kindness it was due that his health and life 


were preserved in his hard wrestle with fortune. 
The tenderness and domestic order of that kind 
sister kept him from resorting to the public-house, 
preserved both his health and morals ; and he knew 
and owned in after-life, when he became a thriving 
and a prosperous man, that his sister had been a 
true helper, without whose aid he would probably 
have succumbed to the hardship of his lot. 

William Hutton was not merely a prosperous 
man, he was good in all the various relationships of 
life, and he lived to extreme old age. 

On the publication of his " History of Birming- 
ham," which had a very large circulation, he was 
elected a Fellow of the Antiquarian Society of 
Edinburgh. Wealth and honours followed ; but in 
wealth as in poverty he retained a humble, kindly, 
grateful nature, and always delighted to own his 
great obligations to his sister Catherine. 

Certainly the most memorable case in modern bio- 
graphy of sisterly sympathy and help is furnished 
in the life of Miss Caroline Herschel, of whom inci- 
dental mention has been made in the sketch of Mrs. 
Mary Somerville. The splendour of the name o'f 
Herschel, and the scientific distinctions attained 
by Sir William, and Sir John his son, might throw 
into complete shade the early history of the family, 
and thus prevent us from knowing and being in- 
structed by a very impressive and beautiful domestic 
history, only that the recent publication of the life 


of Miss Herschel * throws the quiet light of home 
on the narrative of the scientific progress of her 
distinguished relatives. 

In the garrison school at Hanover, from 1739 to 
1755, there were a group of pupils ranging from the 
age of two to fourteen, the elder boys of whom were 
noted for their talents, particularly in music. Jacob, 
William, and John had all been well instructed at 
home in that art by their father, a musician in the 
Guards' band. But this good father's plans for the 
education of his family were much hindered by his 
ill health. He was a martyr to asthma and rheu- 
matism, owing to the hardships he had endured in 
war-time with the army. But his children were a 
great compensation. The eldest, Sophia, went away 
to reside with a family, where she married early a 
musician named Griesbach ; and the three elder boys 
soon obtained employment Jacob as an organist, 
and William and John in the band. Their bright- 
ness rather threw into the shade the fifth child of 
the family, Caroline, a little, quiet, plain-looking 
girl. By her own account, she was not much 
cared for in the busy household, some of whom the 
eldest sister and brother were certainly selfish and 
exacting. But there was one brother, William, to 
whom the little Caroline always firmly attached her- 
self with all the strength of a loving heart, sadly 
repressed in its demonstrations. William had always 

* " Memoir and Correspondence of Caroline Herschel." 
By Mrs. John Herschel. 


a kind look and word for his little sister, which 
fell on her heart like dew upon a drooping flower. 

There was a younger child than Caroline, who 
completed the family group, Alexander, a fine boy, 
the care of whom fell to the lot of the sister five 
years his elder. 

Never was there a harder worked child than 
Caroline Herschel. She had to do the actual drud- 
gery of the house, and in her life calls herself 
" Cinderella," running errands, nursing the baby, 
washing up after meals, mending the clothes, filled 
all the time that she was not at the garrison school, 
which of course, with all the enforced punctuality 
of a German child, she attended. It is affecting to 
read such statements as the following, of her early 
recollections. The incident occurred before she 
was seven years of age, and her father was returning 
home after an absence : 

" My mother being very busy preparing dinner, 
had suffered me to go alone to the parade to meet 
my father, but I could not find him anywhere, nor 
anybody whom I knew; so at last, when nearly frozen 
to death, I came home and found them all at table. 
My dear brother William threw down his knife and 
fork, and ran to welcome me, and crouched down to 
me, which made me forget all my grievances. The 
rest were so happy at seeing one another again, that 
my absence had never been perceived." 

In another place she says, " I was mostly, when 
not in school, sent with Alexander to play on the 


walls, or with the neighbours' children, in which I 
seldom could join ; and often stood freezing on the 
shore to see my brother skating till he chose to go 
home. In short, there was no one who cared any- 
thing about me." 

A sad testimony. This doubtless had the effect 
of concentrating her affection on the one brother 
who did care something for her. Her father, too, 
she always remembered with great tenderness, for 
he perceived some talent in the child, and taught 
her a little music and singing, not with his 
wife's concurrence. Mrs. Herschel was a toil-worn 
mother, wearied with her necessary household tasks. 
She saw that her eldest daughter's education had 
not made her helpful, but the reverse; that her 
elder sons' talents were likely to cause them, as they 
did, to leave their native land in search of a wider 
sphere ; therefore she was resolute to prevent little 
Caroline having any but the humblest and plainest 
instruction what the school laws prescribed, and 
no more. 

Thus there was the greatest impediment to Caro- 
line's mental progress which could possibly exist. 
A child a daughter especially is so influenced by 
a mother's feelings and prejudices, that it is one of 
the marvels which real life supplies, more strangely 
than fiction can do, that this little hard-worked 
household drudge should have ever emerged from 
the gloom of her early condition. This it is which 
makes her life so valuable ; what she was, quite as 


much as what she did, is a rich legacy of instruc- 
tion to all. This little girl, who was to become the 
greatest female astronomer of the age, was a capital 
knitter, and records that she knitted a pair of 
stockings for one of her brothers, which when done 
were as long as she was high. 

The departure of the two eldest brothers for 
England on a musical tour was the next important 
event in the family. This was followed by the 
death of the good father, to the deep grief of his 
wife and children, to whom he left "little more 
than the heritage of a good example, unblemished 
character, and those musical talents, which he had 
so carefully educated, and by which he probably 
hoped the more gifted of his sons would attain to 

The little Caroline was thrown, as she says, into 
a " state of stupefaction " for many weeks after this 
bereavement. All hope of intellectual improvement 
seemed now closed to her. She went for a short 
time to learn millinery and dressmaking, but this 
was not continued long. She returned to her 
household duties, and the toiling mother was con- 
stant at her spinning-wheel, while the sons were 
gaining great reputation in England, particularly 
at Bath, where William was mostly resident. 

It should be noted that from William's earliest 
years he had shown not merely musical talent, but 
a great mechanical and inventive faculty. His 
mind had a wide range, and he could study Ian- 


guages and mathematics, and yet train his hands 
to skill in mechanics. He was never idle, but 
always acquiring ; indeed, idleness was unknown 
in the family, though some were more diligent and 
far more unselfish than others. 

Thus some years passed on, until Caroline was 
twenty- two, when there came a letter from her 
brother William, proposing that she should join 
him at Bath. He remembered her voice and sing- 
ing, and thought by his instruction he might make 
her useful for his winter concerts at Bath. She 
was to return to Hanover, if on trial she did not suc- 
ceed. Her eldest brother Jacob, who, as she said, 
had never heard her voice except in speaking, turned 
the whole scheme into ridicule. But stimulated by 
the hope of doing something to aid her brother 
and gain a living for herself, she began to study, 
practise, and prepare herself. Meanwhile, in the 
expectation of going away, she knitted as many 
cotton stockings for her mother and youngest 
brother " as would last two years at least." 

In the August of 1772, her brother William came 
to see his mother, and take Caroline to England. 
She says, " My mother had consented to my going 
with him, and the anguish of my leaving her was 
somewhat alleviated by my brother settling a small 
annuity on her, by which she would be able to keep 
an attendant to supply my place." 

What a journey she had to England ! In these 
days, the cheapest train and steamer take a pas- 


senger to the Continent in comfort in a few hours ; 
then, Miss Herchel travelled six days and nights in 
an open postwagen, and then embarked at Helvoet- 
sluys, on a stormy sea, to the packet-boat, two miles 
distant ; and she and her brother were, she says, 
" thrown on shore by the English sailors like balls, 
at Yarmouth, for the vessel was almost a wreck, 
without a main and another of the masts." 

Her troubles were not over on landing ; for after 
a hasty breakfast, brother and sister mounted some 
sort of cart, to take them to the place where the 
London coach passed. They were upset into a 
ditch, fortunately dry, and came off with only a 
fright; some kind fellow-passengers, who accom- 
panied them to London, helping them. 

Poor Caroline entered the metropolis bareheaded, 
having lost her hat, amid her other troubles of the 
way. The landlady of the inn in the city lent her 
a bonnet, and thus equipped, she made one short 
excursion, to see something of the metropolis. 
Curiously enough, among all the fine shops she 
noticed only one with an interested and longing 
gaze it was an optician's. But they could not 
linger. That same night saw them on the way to 
Bath, where they arrived, she says, " almost an- 
nihilated, having been only twice in bed during 
their twelve days' journey." 

, It must have been a strange new life to the little 
German girl at Bath. Her brother William was 
organist at the Octagon chapel, director of the 


public concerts, and as a teacher of music lie had a 
large circle of pupils from the first families. All his 
professional work was, however, with him but 
means to an end. Every moment of leisure that he 
could snatch by day from his musical pursuits, and 
every hour that he could subtract from his sleep at 
night, were devoted to those astronomical studies 
to which, by the strong workings of natural genius, 
he was impelled with a force he had no power or 
wish to resist. 

From the quietude of her retired home, and the 
monotonous music of her mother's spinning-wheel 
and her own knitting needles, Caroline was plunged 
at once into a life of ceaseless activity. She had a 
purpose quite as strong as her* brother's, and that 
was to be in all things possible, and some that 
seemed impossible, his devoted helper. It is said of 
her, that for ten years she persevered by night and 
day, " singing when she was told to sing, copying 
when she was told to copy, lending a hand in the 
workshop (where her brother manufactured his tele- 
scopes), and taking her full share in all the stirring 
and exciting changes by which the musician ultimate- 
ly became the king's astronomer and a celebrity." 

Besides all these unusual duties, she kept her 
brother's house, and had a full share of trouble with 
inefficient and wasteful servants, whose extrava- 
gance shocked her thrifty habits and harassed her 
temper. Yet she never says anything of her own 
exertions or privations in that arduous time of toil, 


and only recalled them to her nephew in after-days, 
" to show," as she said, " with what miserable as- 
sistance your father made shift to obtain the means 
of exploring the heavens." Every one but herself 
would call it most invaluable assistance, every 
power of her body and mind being devoted to him. 

At breakfast times, upon her first arrival, her 
brother gave her some lessons in English and arith- 
metic. " By way of relaxation, we talked of astro- 
nomy, and the bright constellations with which 
I had made acquaintance during the fine nights 
we had spent on the postwagen, travelling through 
Holland/' In this desultory way she began the 
studies in which she ultimately excelled. Had she 
chosen, there is little doubt she might have had 
great success as a public singer ; but her brother's 
tastes and pursuits were hers, and no excitement of 
praise, or hope of emolument, ever interfered with 
her steady resolve to work for and with him. 

The difficulties, fatigues, and dangers of her 
brother's experiments and first mechanical contri- 
vances were almost innumerable. There was then 
no optician resident in Bath, and the toil of making 
tubes for telescopes, polishing mirrors, procuring or 
inventing tools, took up all the time that could be 
spared from music. Indeed, Caroline had to watch 
her brother, and almost put the food in his mouth, 
so that his health might not suffer by his mind 
being so absorbed in his scientific pursuits. 

As far as a wide reading of biography enables 


me to judge, I think there is no record of such 
hard, various, and continued study and work as that 
which was performed by this remarkable woman. 
Her brother's career was extraordinary, but he had 
the advantage of a good, sound, early education, and 
habits of study fostered by his father's approbation. 
Caroline had merely been able to gather the crumbs 
of knowledge that fell around her in her childhood's 
home, and to devour them in secrecy and fright, being 
far more likely to have blame than praise. All 
the deficiencies of her early mental training she had 
now to make up, as well as to pursue tasks wholly 
unusual to her sex. At night she watched the 
heavens with her brother, regardless of, yet not 
without feeling, cold and weariness. Once, on a 
bitter December night, she records, that in making 
some alteration in the machinery of the telescope, 
she slipped on the snowy ground, and was impaled 
on an iron hook. " My brother's call, ' Make haste/ 
I could only answer by a pitiful cry, ' I am 
hooked/ He and the workman were instantly 
with me ; but they could not lift me without leaving 
nearly two ounces of my flesh behind. The work- 
man's wife was called, but was afraid to do any- 
thing ; and I was obliged to be my own surgeon, by 
applying aquabusade (water bandages) and tying 
kerchiefs about it for some days." The wound was 
bad for a long time ; and a physician told her that 
had a soldier met with such a hurt he would have 
been entitled to six weeks' nursing in hospital. 


The astronomical discoveries of her brother at- 
tracted the attention of the scientific world, and led 
to George III., his Queen, and the Princesses taking 
an interest in the astronomer. Royal patronage, and 
still more, his own strong desire, determined William 
Herschel to devote himself entirely to his astronomi- 
cal studies. The brother and sister played and sung 
professionally for the last time on Whit- Sunday, 1782, 
at St. Margaret's Chapel, Bath, the anthem for the 
day being a composition of William Herschel. 

The honours which came to the brother were by 
no means remunerative. He gave up his pupils and 
musical career at Bath, which had enabled him to 
spend a large amount of money on scientific instru- 
ment and experiments. His salary, when he was 
appointed Royal Astronomer, was but 200 a year ! 
Well might Sir William Watson say, "Never 
bought monarch honour so cheap." 

This stipend would not have paid the rent of the 
new Observatory and the expenses of frequent jour- 
neys to and fro to the king and queen at Windsor, 
but for the astronomer's success in making tele- 
scopes for sale. He was compelled to pursue this 
mechanical branch, or he could not have continued 
his observations of the heavens. 

His sister, finding she must qualify herself as 
assistant astronomer, learned to use the telescope, 
and, as she called it, " sweep the heavens/' in 
which she soon acquired great skill. In her 
brother's absences from home, she, to use her own 



quaint phrase, " Minded the heavens/' and with 
such success that her watching was rewarded in a 
very wonderful way. On the 1st of August, 1786, 
she discovered a comet; and, her brother being 
abroad, she with characteristic promptitude wrote 
en the following morning an account of her dis- 
covery to two eminent men, Dr. Blagden and Alex. 
Aubert, Esq., who in a few days congratulated her 
warmly, the latter saying, " You have immortalized 
your name ; and you deserve such a reward from 
the Being who has ordered all these things to move 
as we find them, for your assiduity in the business 
of astronomy, and for your love for so celebrated 
and deserving a brother." 

From this time, Miss Caroline Herschel became 
what, in her humility, she never desired to be a 
celebrity. She rather shrunk from any praise of 
herself, as if it was taken from her brother. He 
was to her as the sun, and she merely a shadow 
called up by his brightness. Surely, it was an 
absurd and exaggerated humility in her to Say, " I 
did nothing for my brother but what a well-trained 
puppy-dog would have done. I was a mere tool, 
which he had the trouble of sharpening/' 

All the thoughtful people of her own time, and 
still more since the narrative of her life has been 
given to the world, will not take her own estimate 
of herself. She achieved individual, quite as much 
as relative greatness. 

Space will not permit me to follow the career of 


Miss Herschel as an astronomer, except to remind 
my young readers that she did not allow herself to 
become less diligent as she grew more celebrated. 
A real love of science for its own sake, and not 
for any praise, still less for pecuniary advantage, 
possessed and ennobled her mind. She had the 
small salary of fifty pounds a year awarded her as 
assistant astronomer, and this was continued as a 
pension in- her old age. 

Her discovery of the first comet was followed by 
that of seven or eight others. After her brother's 
marriage, which took place late in his life to a very 
amiable lady, Miss Herschel removed to a small re- 
sidence near him, and continued to sit up with him 
in his observatory, note down his observations, and 
make necessary and difficult calculations for him. 
She was greatly delighted, with what may be called 
an almost maternal joy, when a son of that beloved 
brother was placed in her arms that son who lived 
to nobly inherit his father's genius, and uphold and 
extend the fame of the honoured name of Herschel. 

Of course as celebrity came to her she was sought 
out by the wealthy and distinguished ; but whether 
in the courtly sphere of royalty, or among the elite 
of fashionable and scientific circles, she always 
retained the unaffected simplicity of her manners, 
delighting all by her friendliness and entire freedom 
from assumption. She was a true gentlewoman in 
heart and manners, thinking always of others rather 
than of herself. 


Miss Herschel reached the age of seventy, and 
was still toiling on at her celestial studies, when 
her brother, Sir William, died, full of years and 
honours, aged eighty-two. She mourned him with 
an intensity of sorrow that seemed like the uproot- 
ing of her own heart. She felt that she could not 
live in England now he was gone, and went home 
to her native land to die. It was not exactly a wise 
determination. The resolutions we take in sorrow, 
or in any strong emotion, are more the result of 
excited feeling than calm judgment ; and so it was 
in this case. The country she returned to, after 
nearly fifty years' absence, was not at all like the 
place she had left, or that youthful memory had 
retained in her mind. All her immediate acquain- 
tance and most of her kinsfolk were gone, or came 
to her as strangers. She left the most cultured 
circle in England to find neither companionship for 
her heart or her mind. Yet deep as the disappoint- 
ment must have been, she did not say much about 
it; for at first she thought her life would not last 
long, and after that she grew more accustomed to 
the change. Her correspondence with her nephew, 
Sir John Herschel, to whom she transferred the love 
she had borne his father, that nephew's success in 
his scientific career, the letters and tributes she 
received from eminent people throughout England 
and the world, and the respect with which she was 
treated by all at Hanover, from the king and his 
family, with whom she was a great favourite, to 


the more accessible circles of intellectual society 
all these gradually reconciled her to her residence, 
and made it less a state of exile. 

Moreover, her sincere and cheerful piety sustained 
her, as year followed year and found her yet re- 
maining, still taking an interest in all that was 
going on in the scientific world, and deeply sympa- 
thising in the greater advantages of education that 
were coming within the reach of her own sex. She 
deplored what she thought (and not without reason) 
the extravagance in modern attire among women. 
Her own modest income of 50 a year, to which 
her nephew insisted, against her remonstrance, on 
adding another 50, was always sufficient for her 
wants, although she visited and received the visits 
of royalty. A single maid- servant conducted her 
frugal household arrangements in her simple apart- 
ments ; and thus in all the dignity of simplicity and 
independence her life went on, until it almost 
seemed as if death had forgotten her. 

'Sir John HerscheFs visit to the Cape (1834), 
to make astronomical observations, interested her 
greatly. She was amused when the asti-onomical so- 


cieties of England and Dublin elected her a mem- 
ber, and awarded her a medal. She could not be- 
lieve she had done anything very great, or indeed 
at all worthy of being called great ; and she said, 
quaintly enough, "To think of their electing me, 
when I have not discovered a comet for eighteen 
years ! " 


She lived to within nearly fwo years ^of a hun- 
dred. In anticipation of her death, she had long 
before composed her epitaph, and left memorials to 
her nephew and a few relatives, and her books and 
telescopes to friends and learned Societies. 

She retained her faculties unclouded, and her 
will strong and active to the last. It was winter 
when the end came, and she had reluctantly to 
keep her bed, but was free from pain, and able to 
raise herself and converse. 

The guns which announced the birth of a child 
in the royal family struck on her dying ear; she 
was told the cause. The departing one expressed 
hopes for the new pilgrim, and then fell gently 
asleep. With scarcely a struggle, she entered into 
rest on the 9th of January, 1848. She was buried 
beside her father and mother,, and her tomb bears 
the following inscription : 




DIED JANY. 9TH, 1848. 

The eyes of her who is glorified were here below turned 
toithe starry heavens. Her own discoveries of comets, and 
her participation in the immortal labours of her brother, 
William Herschel, bear witness of this to future ages. 

ira2 all Sliijo Uairaedi --^~ x ^ 




excellent systems of teaching 
in the present day so smooth the 
steep hill of difficulty to the 
young seeker after knowledge, 
that it is sometimes thought there 
is no great need of saying much 
noiv about self-training and cul- 
ture. Every facility is afforded 
to learners, and the assumption 
is that all learn readily, and that 
allusions to and examples of what was in forme" 
times very justly called "the pursuit of knowledge 
under difficulties " are now no longer needed. 

While rejoicing heartily that the difficulties in 
the way of school instruction are removed, that 
elementary knowledge is insisted on for all, and 
that culture in the higher branches of attainment 


is generally accessible, I yet think that there is 
some danger it may be great danger that the 
young will depend too much on what is done for 
them, and think too little of what, if they are to 
be really cultivated and intelligent women, must be 
done by them. No system of instruction can pos- 
sibly supersede thoughtful effort and diligent at- 
tention in the pupil, or compensate for wise appli- 
cation of attainments when girlhood merges into 

There is a sense, and a very important sense too, 
in which every one who really is well-informed must 
be self-taught. Instruction given is one thing, 
instruction received another. No plans of educa- 
tion can supersede or supply a substitute for the 
faculty of attention and the practice of diligence. 
What the young mind desires and resolves to do 
for itself is of the utmost importance to that mind. 
Instruction may stream on and over the mind like 
water over a mirror, and make no abiding-place 
in it. 

In the times gone by, people were rather to be 
pitied than blamed if they were ignorant. " Igno- 
rance of what they could not know" was not culpable. 
But now, with all the facilities which schools and 
libraries afford, ignorance is a disgrace which every 
right-minded young person should resolutely avoid. 
When darkness prevailed, none were to blame for 
not seeing ; but to be voluntarily dark amid the 
blaze of day, that is indeed culpable. It is the awful 


realization of the solemn words : " If the light that 
is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness I" 

Hence it is a salutary exercise to look back on 
former times, and refresh our mind's and stimulate 
our faculties with the records and experience of 
those who have had to cope with hardships no 
longer existing, and whose mental and moral 
triumphs over difficulties remain as an example to 
all thoughtful readers. 

Few young women in any age or country were 
more successful in acquiring knowledge, or more 
modest, conscientious, and judicious in its use, than 
Miss Elizabeth Smith, the Oriental scholar, and 
the translator of the Book of Job ; and readers are 
more drawn to the consideration of her acquire- 
ments from the fact that her Christian character 
was even more lofty than her remarkable mind. 

There is not much to record in her uneventful, 
brief, yet beautiful life. Some sorrows came to 
test her principles and show her sweet sympathy 
and calm fortitude. 

In the year 1793, times were very hard in Eng- 
land. The French Revolution had startled the 
whole civilized world. War was rampant, opinions 
were conflicting, property was insecure, taxation 
high, trade and commerce much depressed. It was 
not wonderful that the moneyed interest should 
suffer, and many banks broke. One in the West 
of England, of which a Mr. Smith was the leading 
partner, failed; and the blow that shattered the 


dwelling may be said to have let in light, by which 
we plainly see a most interesting family circle. 

The eldest daughter, Elizabeth, was sixteen years 
of age just able to enjoy and estimate the elegan- 
cies and comforts that were lost. The blow fell 
suddenly for, in such crises, failures are often the 
result of the difficulties of others, and become be- 
yond individual control and the family at Fierce- 
field were looking forward, not unreasonably, to 
building a new house, and to years of prosperity 
and domestic happiness. 

Fortunately, Mrs. Smith, the mother in that 
home, was a woman of great good sense as well as 
refinement. She had not been domesticated in one 
residence for any long period of her married life. 
She resided at Burnhall, the seat of her ancestors, 
near Durham, when Elizabeth, her eldest daughter, 
was born, in 1776. Thence the family removed to 
Suffolk for a time, and afterwards lived at Fierce- 
field, or Bath. Mrs. Smith was her children's first 
instructress, and was equally surprised and de- 
lighted both at the quickness and attention of little 
Elizabeth. She was a docile, rather shy child, very 
lovely in person, and gentle in temper. 

A young lady, Miss Hunt, an orphan, only some 
seventeen years of age, was taken by Mrs. Smith 
as a governess to her little family, and from her 
Elizabeth received all the regular instruction that 
was ever bestowed on her. The young governess 
was kind and good, and tolerably clever ; but her 


pupil Elizabeth was what every wise teacher wishes 
to have a learner ; and her progress, particularly 
in languages, was surprising. By the time she was 
thirteen, she had surpassed her governess in attain- 

I observe, too, from her letters* that she com- 
pelled herself to studies that she did not like so 
well as languages. Many a girl will devote herself 
to what comes easy and pleasant to her, but avoids 
what tasks her intellect. Arithmetic and mathe- 
matical studies were not favourite pursuits with 
Elizabeth; but she overcame her reluctance, not 
from any parental command, but because she was 
impressed with the value of solid studies, and the 
duty of cultivating her mind in all branches which 
she had an opportunity of acquiring. 

Elizabeth was but fifteen when, by the removal of 
this first and only governess, the instruction of her 
younger sisters and brothers devolved on her. No 
doubt this use of her education had long been 
thought of by her. Mrs. Smith's health- grew 
delicate, and the good daughter had early learned 
to be her mother's helper. Her fingers were skil- 
ful on the piano, but they were as active and as 
skilled in making and mending her own and the 
younger children's clothes. She was one of those 
may their numbers ever increase who thought 
all acquirements and accomplishments should be 
so used as to promote domestic order and social 

* Mrs. H. M. Bowdler's account of Miss Elizabeth Smith. 


comfort and refined pursuits. Hence there was no 
selfishness in her motives. 

By early rising, she had time for her reading of 
the poets, English, German, and Italian, as well as 
superintending the lessons of the younger children. 
How much depends on the eldest daughter in a 
home! How she may become a sweet companion 
for the leisure hours of her father, a ready helper in 
household matters to her mother, a tender and wise 
friend to her younger brothers and sisters, a loving 
and beloved assistant to all ! 

This wise discipline of early life, when there was 
no fear of any change of social position, un- 
doubtedly fitted Elizabeth for the altered circum- 
stances that came to her just as womanhood was 
opening before her. 

Of course there must have been grief and per- 
plexity for her father and mother, but there never 
was a nrarmur from herself. She became more 
cheerful and active than before, so as to lighten the 
cares of others. The younger children clung to her 
with increased affection, for she was ever ready to 
teach or to play with them, and to supply, as far as 
she could, every want of the attendance they had 
been used to, and to teach them by her own example 
to be gentle and helpful. 

For some time the family were absolutely with- 
out a home of their own. The kindness of friends 
was shown by offers of hospitality, and the family 
visited among intimates and connections until some- 


thing could be settled on for them. Elizabeth, 
amid all these interruptions, kept up her own 
studies and gave constant help to her mother with 
the younger branches of the family. 

Mr. Smith obtained a commissio*n and entered 
the army. -This, in Elizabeth's seventeenth year, 
necessitated their removal to Ireland. Her father 
joined his regiment at Sligo, and his family went 
to him. Mrs. Smith, in a letter to Dr. Randolph,, 
says : 

" Books are not light of carriage, and the blow 
which deprived us of Piercefield deprived us of a 
library also. But though this period of her (Eliza's) 
life (while with the regiment in Ireland) afforded 
little opportunity for improvement in science, the 
qualities of her heart never appeared in a more ami- 
able light. Through all the inconveniences which 
attended our situation while living in barracks, the 
firmness and cheerful resignation of her mind made 
me blush for the tear which too frequently trembled 
in my eye at the recollection of the comforts we 
had lost." 

On their first arrival in Ireland, in the summer 
of 1796, they passed some time as guests at the 
Earl of Kingston's residence, and went from thence 
to join Captain Smith at Sligo. Although it was 
summer, the weather was very wet, and the family 
seem to have had a wretched journey, and found 
that no comforts awaited them at their quarters in 
the Sligo barracks. In a letter to a friend, Eliza- 


be th says, " We were all completely wet through 
when we arrived, and had everything to unpack, and 
beds to contrive and arrange. " She adds, " we are 
all very well and much amused with the little mis- 
fortunes that happen to us." 

It is wonderful to think of her cheerfulness ; for 
Mrs. Smith, in a letter on the same subject, says, 
" We arrived at the barracks, dripping wet. Our 
baggage not come, and, owing to the negligence 
of the quarter-master, there was not even a bed to 
rest on. The whole furniture of our apartments 
consisted of a piece of a cart-wheel for a fender, a 
bit of iron for a poker, a dirty deal table, and three 
wooden-bottomed chairs. It was the first time we 
had joined the regiment; and I was standing by the 
fire meditating on our forlorn state, and perhaps 
dwelling too much on the comforts I had lost, when 
I was roused from my reverie by Elizabeth ex- 
claiming, ' Oh, what a blessing ! ' 

" ' Bles'sing ! ' I replied; 'there seems none 

" ' Indeed there is, dear mother; for see, here is 
a little cupboard/ 

" I dried my tears, and endeavoured to learn for- 
titude from my daughter." 

That lovely and gifted daughter immediately set 
to work to make a meal for the family, and to put 
the little cupboard to use for holding necessaries; 
and with characteristic ingenuity and good humour, 
she contrived a little luxurious surprise for the 


family by making them a currant tart. What a 
treasure was her activity and unfailing good 
humour ! Not that she did not feel the change of 
circumstances, for with her thoughtful mind and 
tender heart she must have felt deeply; but she 
was intent on lightening the burden for the rest, 
and in this found her own soul comforted. 

I have said she was a good needlewoman, and her 
own dress and that of the family depended almost 
entirely on her skill and taste. It was remarked of 
her, when she was grown up and mixed in the 
small but very cultivated circle of her friends, that 
her taste was so correct, no lady could be more 
elegantly and yet more simply dressed. Economy 
and neatness were both combined with taste and 
refinement, an equal avoidance of finery and shabbi- 
ness, which I think my judicious young readers will 
esteem the perfection of good sense in dress for 
those whose means are limited. 

Although there were many interruptions and im- 
pediments to the studies that she loved during her 
residence in Ireland, and Elizabeth could not ob- 
tain the books she wished for, yet she made good 
use of such as fell in her way. Some Greek and 
Latin works especially came within reach, and she 
employed her brief leisure, or rather, by her habits 
of economizing time and rising early, made leisure 
to use these books in helping her to obtain classical 

From Ireland, the family returned to Bath, and 



here she resumed her Hebrew and her German 
studies, having access to books that helped her. 
She seems to have pursued her student course 
alone, as regards tuition, being her own tutor, but 
not without admiring encouragement from her 
family and friends. There were found among her 
papers the following reflections, written on the day 
of her coming of age : 

" Being now arrived at what is called years of 
discretion, and looking back on my past life with 
shame and confusion, when I recollect the many 
advantages I have had, and the bad use I have 
made of them, the hours I have squandered, and 
the opportunities of improvement I have neglected ; 
when I imagine what with those advantages I ought 
to be, and find myself what I am, I am resolved to 
endeavour to be more careful for the future, if 
the future be granted me ; to try to make amends 
for past negligence by employing every moment I 
can command to some good purpose ; to endeavour 
to acquire all the little knowledge that human 
nature is capable of on earth, but to let , the Word 
of God be my chief study, and all others subser- 
vient to it. To model myself, as far as I am able, 
according to the gospel of Christ ; to be content 
while my trial lasts ; and when it is finished, to re- 
joice, trusting in the merits of my Eedeemer. I 
have written these resolutions to stand as a witness 
against me, in case I should be inclined to forget 
them,, and to return to my former indolence and 


thoughtlessness, because I have found the inutility 
of mental determinations. May God give me 
strength to keep them ! " 

The prayer with, which this resolve concludes 
shows the source to which alone she looked for 
strength and grace. Resolutions made in our own 
strength only are never likely to produce the re- 
sults we wish. They are evanescent, like the morn- 
ing cloud and early dew. 

Captain Smith's stay with his regiment was pro- 
longed for some years ; and his family at length 
were settled in a little retreat at Coniston, in a very 
beautiful region, since become celebrated not only 
for its great natural beauties, but for the many 
eminent literary people who have taken up their 
residence within the lake district, and have made 
its scenery ever memorable. 

From the time that Elizabeth began to study 
Hebrew, she devoted herself to the examination 
of, and to translations from, the Holy Scriptures. 
This indeed was her motive in entering on a course 
of study not common now, and very uncommon then, 
among women. She was eminently a Bible student, 
and the work of her life, which honourably ranks 
her among contributors to the literature of her 
time, was her translation of the Book of Job a 
very ambitious effort for a young and self-taught 

Rev. Dr. Magee, of Trinity College, known then as 
a great Hebraist and authority in Biblical criticism, 


wrote of Elizabeth Smith's translation : , " After a 
close scrutiny and a careful comparison with the 
original, it strikes me as conveying more of the 
true character and meaning of the Hebrew, with 
fewer departures from the idiom of the English 
than any other translation whatever that we possess. 
It combines accuracy of style, and unites critical 
research with familiar exposition. " 

This work was finished in 1803. She occupied 
herself also, while at Coniston, with making trans- 
lations from the German of Klopstock,* chiefly 
letters and papers of the illustrious German de- 
votional poet, and his congenial-minded wife ; and 
it was said of her success in clothing the German 
author in an English dress : " Klopstock, under 
her management, talks English as well as his native 
tongue ; and the warmest of his admirers would 
rejoice to hear the facility and precision with which 
she has taught their favourite poet and philosopher 
to converse amongst us." 

Her acquaintance with eminent poetical writings, 
and more especially with so sublime a work as the 
Book of Job, gave her a distaste for her own original 
poetic compositions. She felt their inferiority to the 
models which had formed her taste, and therefore, to 
the regret of many friends, ceased to exercise her 
pen in that way. As there is no subject, on which 
even sensible people so often deceive themselves, as 
on that of their own powers of poetic writings, 
* Author of "The Messiah," etc. 


it shows us both the humility and the sound judg- 
ment of this young lady, that she early came to the 
conclusion, that while she had poetic feeling and 
fine taste, she had not in a high degree the gift of 
poetic expression. 

It is pleasant to think that the last two years of 
this sweet life were passed amid scenery that she 
loved, and that her health, until a few months be- 
fore her lamented death, was perfect. She made 
many sketching excursions, and returned exhilarated 
from the long walks to many beautiful scenes, which 
her skilful and ready pencil had transferred to her 
sketch-book. The commencement of her illness is 
given by herself : 

" One very hot evening in July I took a book 
and walked about two miles from home, where I 
seated myself on a stone beside the lake. Being 
much engaged by a poem I was reading, I did not per- 
ceive that the sun was gone down, and was succeeded 
by a very heavy dew, till in a moment I felt struck 
on the chest as if with a sharp knife. I returned 
home, but said nothing of the pain. The next day 
being also very hot, and every one busy in the hay- 
field, I thought I would take a rake and work very* 
hard to produce perspiration, in the hope that it 
might remove the pain, but it did not." 

From that time a bad cough and frequent loss of 
voice alarmed her family. In the autumn, as she 
became worse, she was removed to a milder climate, 
and reached the house of a friend at Gloucester. 


Thence she was taken to Finsbury, where she 
stayed five months. Afterwards, in May, Dr. 
Baillie of London recommended Matlock ; but, as 
she did not improve, and confirmed consumption 
had set in, at her earnest desire she returned to 
Coniston, and on reaching her pretty cottage home, 
she said, " If I cannot live here, I am sure I can 
nowhere else." 

Here, in a few weeks, the end drew near, but the 
gentle sufferer was so serenely calm and unmurmur- 
ing, that no one but her mother thought her so ill 
as she really was. Nor did she herself anticipate 
so sudden a release as she experienced. But she 
was, by faith in Jesus, always ready, and never 
depressed. On the night of the 7th August, 1806, 
she became very exhausted and somewhat restless. 
She would not let her mother sit up with her, fear- 
ing the fatigue would be injurious to her. An old 
and faithful servant was with the sufferer early in 
the morning, and yielded to her wish to get up and 
be dressed. While this was being done, a slight 
tremor shook Elizabeth's feeble frame ; she leaned 
her head on the attendant's shoulder, and with a 
gentle sigh the spirit fled to join its kindred 
among the just made perfect. Surely there was 
infinite mercy in such an easy dismissal to one so 
prepared ! 

One lesson of humility from her own private 
meditations deserves to be remembered by all 
young readers; to the highly gifted it is the most 


applicable "The more talents and good qualities 
we nave received, the more humble we ought to be, 
because we have the less merit in doing right." 

She was buried at Hawkeshead, where a white 
marble tablet is inscribed: 








'HERE are few conditions of life more 
abounding both in responsibilities and 
temptations than that of an only daugh- 
ter, called at an early age, by the death 
of her mother, to take that mother's va- 
cant place and superintend her father's 
house. She has to be his earthly con- 
soler, his duteous child, and the careful manager 
of his domestic affairs, just after they have been 
wrecked or shattered by a heavy blow. It must 
be her study to prevent her father from having to 
mourn over a ruined home, as well as a departed 

" Poor thing ! she has lost her mother when she 
needed her care most," is the frequent remark when 
a young maiden is thus left, left, just as childhood 
is merging into womanhood, and all the varied diffi- 
culties, mistakes, and peculiar trials of youth have 
to be encountered by the motherless girl. Every 
feeling heart must be interested in one so situated ; 


every Christian spirit will be ready to breathe a 
prayer for, and give gentle counsel to, a daughter 
so bereaved. 

Yet among the sweet examples which rise to our 
observation or memory, if we are thoughtful 
seekers for excellence, we shall find many an in- 
stance, among high and low, of a daughter taking 
her mother's place showing her tender love for 
the departed, not so much by tears and grief as by 
trying to fulfil every duty, and seeking to compen- 
sate the home for the loss of the wife and mother, 
who, if worthy of those names, was the central 
light of the dwelling. 

In many a humble home, the family have had to 
cling to some elder sister, who seemed to have put 
off her childhood at her mother's grave; and, while 
the tears were still wet upon her cheeks, has begun 
to set the house in order, to tend the children, to 
pay extra attention to the head of the family, and in 
a thousand ways to prevent the father from being 
utterly crushed by his trouble. God's blessing is 
on all such efforts of affection ! The effort is 
indeed twice blessed to the youthful mind that 
makes it, and to the home it is made for. Many a 
thoughtless girl has been developed into a noble 
woman by such a discipline of sorrow. 

But the temptations of youth are much increased 
in the case of an only daughter whose father is in 
that position in life which belongs to a superior 
station. A professional man, whether doctor or 


lawyer, is not able to leave the locality in which 
he lives in search of the consolation of travel ; he 
must remain among- his patients or clients. He 
may have household arrangements which cannot, 
without utter discomfiture, be altered; and if, being 
the father of an only daughter, he has no near 
female relative of mature years to undertake the 
management of his domestic affairs, he is com- 
mitted either to an upper servant, or to the plan 
of putting his child at the head of his house and 
confiding to her youth a charge which demands 
a thoughtful care scarcely to be expected in early 
years. Happy the man whose daughter in such an 
exigency shows herself equal to the task of filling 
her mother's place in his home and heart. 

In the year 1784, Dr. Alderson, an eminent 
physician of Norwich, lost his wife, and was left 
with an only daughter, Amelia, aged fifteen. This 
young lady at once became her father's house- 
keeper as well as companion. She was gifted with 
so many advantages of person and mind that her 
childhood had attracted the attention of all who 
knew her. Fair and blooming, with a smiling face 
and beaming eyes, perfect health, great vivacity, a 
sweet voice, and frank charming manners, she 
seemed the very embodiment of the poet's ideal of 
joyous youth. 

Great attention had been paid to her education, 
and very uncommon advantages of intellectual cul- 
ture had been bestowed. A Flemish pastor, the 


Rev. John Bruckner, settled in Norwich when 
Amelia Alderson was seven years of age, and he 
gave her instruction in the French language, and 
also in some solid branches of acquirement then 
much neglected in female education. She had 
great love of, and some skill in, music particularly 
singing. Added to this was a mind active to 
acquire and tenacious to retain knowledge, with an 
imagination so graceful, and a love of poetry so 
great, that its youthful possessor was in danger of 
living too much in an ideal world, for her gifts 
were just those which need the utmost discretion 
in their culture and use. 

This first grief the loss of her mother checked 
the exuberance of her spirits, and called her reflect- 
ive faculties into exercise. That dear mother had 
been wise and firm, as well as tender in the manage- 
ment of her gifted child, who had the good sense 
and gratitude to remember her admonitions and 
reproofs, as thankfully as the more indulgent and 
pleasant evidences of her affection. In a sweet 
poem to her mother's memory, written some years 
after her death, Amelia says : 

" Oh how I mourned my heedless youth 

Thy watchful care repaid so ill ; 
Yet joyed to think some words of truth 

Sunk in my soul and teach me still; 
Like lamps along life's fearful way, 

To me, at times, those truths have shone; 
And oft when snares around me lay, 

That light has made my danger known. 


Then how thy grateful child has blest 
Each wise reproof thy accents bore ! 

And now she longs, in worlds of rest, 
To dwell with thee for evermore." 

It is not wonderful that this lovely girl, brought 
into society when young people of her age were 
in the schoolroom, should have been much admired 
and sought after. A vain or romantic girl would 
have been ruined by so much praise ; a cold-hearted 
and selfish one would have taken it as her right, 
and sought only her own pleasure ; but this young 
lady had two great preservatives her deep love for 
her father, and her conscientious desire to act as her 
pious mother, if living, would have approved. 

She had not then, nor for some years afterwards, 
the guidance of that unerring light which religious 
conviction gives to the soul ! but wise early training 
had its influence, and she sought and loved the 
society of the good and intellectual. Her earliest 
friend, on whom she relied for advice, to whom she 
gave her confidence, was Mrs. John Taylor, a lady 
distinguished among the then very cultivated society 
of Norwich, for her many excellences of mind and 
character. Nothing is so important to the young 
as the friendships they form. The common proverb 
contains a volume of wisdom : " Tell me your com- 
pany, and I will tell you your manners." 

Dr. Alderson was intimate with most of those 
memorable Norwich families whose names have 
gained a world-wide celebrity. The Taylors, the 


Martineaus, the Gurneys, and, later on, Bishop 
Stanley and his family. In such a circle, there was 
everything to stimulate the development of mind 
and give a bias to genius ; and the young mistress of 
Dr. Alderson's house was soon as distinguished 
among her intellectual friends for her talents, as 
she was beloved for the sweetness of her temper 
and disposition. 

Although she did not apparently contemplate 
becoming an authoress, it was known by her intimate 
friends that she had a gift of poetic expression ; 
and many sweet stanzas and some charming songs 
of her composition were circulated among her 
friends. In after-years she was destined to be 
known and celebrated as a writer both in prose and 
verse, of works admirable for purity, pathos, and 
sound morality. In an age when woman's genius 
has gained great triumphs in the highest depart- 
ments of literature, some of the poems of Amelia 
Opie have retained their place as true expressions 
of genius. And one is just now, in this time of 
war and carnage, singularly touching : 


Stay, lady, stay, for mercy's sake, 

And hear a helpless orphan's tale, 
Ah ! sure my looks must pity wake, 

Tis want that makes my ch'eek so pale. 
Yet I was once a mother's pride, 

And my brave father's hope and joy ; 
But in the Nile's proud fight he died, 

And I am now an orphan boy. 


Poor foolish child ! how pleased was I 

When news of Nelson's victory came, 
Along the crowded streets to fly, 

And see the lighted windows flame ! 
To force me home my mother sought, 

She could not bear to see my joy ; 
For with my father's life 'twas bought, 

And made me a poor orphan boy. 

The people's shouts were long and loud, 

My mother, shuddering; closed her ears ; 
" Kejoice ! rejoice ! " still cried the crowd ; 

My mother answered with her tears. 
" Why are you crying thus," said I, 

" While others laugh and shout with joy?" 
She kissed me and with such a sigh ! 

She called me her poor orphan boy. 

" What is an orphan boy ?" I cried, 

As in her face I looked, and smiled; 
My mother through her tears replied, 

"You'll know too soon, ill-fated child!" 
And now they've tolled my mother's knell, 

And I'm no more a parent's joy ; 
O lady, I have learned too well 

What 'tis to be an orphan boy! 

Oh ! were I by your bounty fed ! 

Nay, gentle lady, do not chide 
Trust me, I mean to earn my bread ; 

The sailor's orphan boy has pride. 
Lady, you weep! ha? this to me? 

You'll give me clothing, food, employ ? 
Look down, dear parents ! look, and see 

Your happy, happy, orphan boy ! 

One of the occupations of her childhood was so 
unusual that it excites astonishment. The coming 


of the judges and the opening of the law-courts 
at the assizes, of course was, and is, the periodical 
excitement of a provincial city. All the children in 
Norwich from the noisy urchins who throng the 
streets, to the little curled darlings who are dressed 
and taken out to witness the ceremonial of the 
judges' arrival, or the procession of the municipal 
authorities who escort the judicial dignitaries to the 
cathedral were then, as now, delighted at the cere- 
monial and the show, the bustle and the life of the 
scene. Very few, probably, ever think deeply re- 
specting the people to be tried, or feel much curiosity 
about the solemn proceedings of a court of justice ; 
but the young Amelia, from a very early age, was 
full of interest and excitement about the trials, 'and 
was allowed to go not to the criminal trials, but 
to the nisi prius court and hear the pleadings and 
witness the proceedings, which she did with an 
absorbed attention, making her own mental com- 
ments, and finding her love of truth greatly shocked 
by the contradictions, prevarications, and careless- 
ness of witnesses. 

The deep attention and intelligent look of this 
young observer attracted the attention of many 
eminent legal men; and, to her own surprise at 
the time, and her amusement as she recalled it 
in after-years, she was noticed and talked to by 
learned judges, and her attendance was looked for 
with indulgent interest. 

She was from early childhood a remarkably good 



reader ; and it is probable, as the bar lias always 
been considered a school of oratory, that this, in the 
first place, both excited her attention and induced 
her father to permit her to gratify her wish of 
attending the trials. 

Some years after, a near relative of hers became 
one of our most eminent judges Baron Alderson 
which must have been a great gratification to such 
a lover of forensic eloquence and legal distinction 
as was our heroine from her youth up. 

Naturally, a young lady so much her own mistress 
and so admired, mingling in the most fashionable 
circles of a gay and wealthy city, would early 
receive those attentions which some young girls 
think the crowning distinction of early womanhood. 
But with all her warmth of feeling and fancy, Miss 
Alderson was not one of those young ladies who 
think it inevitable that, as soon as they are grown 
up, they should fall in love. She loved her father 
so fondly that she wished to devote her life to him ; 
and so her first youth passed away, and left her 

" In maiden meditation 
Fancy free." 

She had paid many visits to London, and was 
known as a writer of great promise before her heart 
was troubled, or blessed, with any emotion that 
equalled her filial love. 

In the year 1781-2, there was in London an artist, 
whose genius excited the utmost admiration, not 
unmingled with surprise, named Opie, who had been 


brought from his native Cornwall, where his youth- 
ful genius had burst through all the impediments 
of a humble station, a very limited education, and 
a life of toil. Dr. Walcot, when visiting Cornwall, 
saw some pictures by a self-taught artist which 
ai'rested his attention. He was told the name, cir- 
cumstances, and age of the painter, and he set off to 
find him. Opie was working in a saw- pit, when he 
was called out to answer the question, " Can you 
paint ? " and the reply he gave was both rustic and 
ready, " Oh, yes ; I can pe'aint a farmyard, and King 
George." The interview ended in the youth accom- 
panying Dr. Walcot to London, where, by diligent 
study and ceaseless industry supplementing his 
natural genius, he became not merely a rustic wonder 
to be stared at, patronized, and then neglected by 
aristocratic idlers, but a winner of a foremost place 
among the most gifted artists of the age. 

It was, however, in 1797, a great surprise to 
many circles that the beautiful and gifted Amelia 
Alderson should have accepted the man whom 
Allan Cunningham calls an " inspired peasant." 
She was gay, fond of and shining in society, and 
visited in the highest circles. He was grave, fond 
of retirement, rather eccentric in conversation, and 
devoted to his noble art. In looks and manners, 
they were a contrast to each other ; but some con- 
trasts harmonize admirably. The solid worth and 
true genius of Opie which had raised him to emi- 
nence, won her esteem and regard, and her high 


estimate of a wife's duties made her in all respects 
an admirable help-meet. 

New duties and new trials both came to her, for 
an artist's life often abounds in cares and reverses ; 
and Opie, though an admired and successful painter, 
was not without many anxieties, and had a hard 
struggle for some years to keep the eminence he 
had attained. 

It was at this time that Mrs. Opie's pen was most 
active, and she wrote some stories that were greatly 
estimated for their moral excellence and literary 
beauty. She displayed a great knowledge of the 
human the female heart, its strength and its 
weakness; and the tenderness of her own nature 
made her excel in pathetic descriptions. 

"Father and Daughter/' and "Tales of the Heart," 
have retained their place among the purest works of 
fiction ; while her story, " White Lies," had a great 
popularity, as useful to that large class of thought- 
less young people who let their tongues run on, 
without caring to be accurate in what they say, 
doing often an immense amount of mischief by care- 
lessly mixing up truth and falsehood, heedless of 
consequences. Would that all would ponder those 
capital lines of the Poet Laureate 

" A lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies ; 
A lie which is all a lie may be met and fought outright ; 
But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight." 

Nine years of happy wedded life ended in widow- 
hood, and Mrs. Opie returned to her beloved father's 


house and her native city as a permanent resident. 
Dr. Alderson lived to a good old age, cheered by 
the duteous attendance of his devoted daughter, 
who at length was left, by his death, alone in the 
world, a childless widow. 

It was during her early widowhood that her mind 
underwent a change on the most important of all 
subjects vital religion. Hitherto she had lived, 
as thousands of amiable people are content to do, 
without any deep thought or faithful searchings of 
heart, as to the real condition of her soul. Content 
merely with a name to live, and not feeling herself 
a sinner, and looking to Jesus as the only Saviour. 

Ah, my dear young reader ! multitudes are satis- 
fied to pass through .the daily round of their simple 
duties, and think they have done all that is required 
of them, if they are amiable and kindly, and avoid 
all flagrant offences against the moral law. Lulled 
by self-complacency into a sense of security, they 
cast aside all serious thought, all salutary fear, as 
to their spiritual state. The answer to the solemn 
demand, " Give Me thy heart," has never been 
made. Prayer has been merely a daily formula, 
perhaps endeared by memories of childhood, or 
sentimentally practised as a salutary habit. The 
real supplicatory spirit, the intense yearning for 
communion with God in Christ, as an ever-present 
Guide, Saviour, and Comforter, has never been 

In this important matter, a great change occurred 


in the experience of Mrs. Opie. She had been in- 
timate from her youth with the family at Earlham 
Hall. Elizabeth Fry, and one of her sisters, Pris- 
cilla Gurney who seems to have been by all testi- 
monies a true embodiment of spiritual and mental 
excellence commended spiritual religion to her 
conscience. Correspondence with them brought 
serious subjects prominently before the mind of 
Mrs. Opie, and the ministrations and letters of 
Joseph John Gurney, led her to deep reflection on 
religion. She left the Presbyterian (or Unitarian ?) 
connection into which she had been born, and after 
due indeed long deliberation united with the 
Society of Friends. 

The name of the section of the Church of Christ 
with which she united, is very secondary to the fact 
that she became a devout Christian ; and that one 
of the first efforts of her awakened soul was to lead 
her beloved father, as Apollos of old was led, into 
the way of truth more perfectly. A prayer that 
she wrote down on this subject is so beautiful that 
I recommend it to my young readers : 

" Thou, ' the .God that hearest prayer/ and, even 
amidst innumerable choirs of angels for ever glorify- 
ing Thee and hymning Thy praise; canst hearken to 
the softest breathings of a supplicating and wretched 
heart ; deign, Lord, to let the prayers of a child for 
a beloved parent come up before Thee. In grateful 
return for that life he gave me here, and which, 
under Thy good providence, he has tenderly watched 


over, and tried to render happy, enable me, Lord ! 
to be the humble means of leading him to Thee. Oh, 
let us thirst, and come together to the waters ; and 
'buy wine and milk without money and without 
price;' and grant, O Lord! that before we go 
hence and are no more seen of men, our united voices 
may ascend to Thee in praises and blessings ! Grant 
that we may together call upon the name of Him 
who has redeemed us by His most precious blood, 
that in that blood our manifold sins may be washed 
away." * 

Mrs. Opie was ever charitable to the very utmost 
of her means, but deepening religious convictions 
gave a wider sphere and a wiser purpose to her 
benevolence. Her loving heart seemed ever like a 
temple of peace and hope, where all gentle and 
generous thoughts prompted to deeds of benevolence 
and mercy. 

She made, in her later years, many excursions to 
the Continent and to different portions of the United 
Kingdom, kept up her literary intercourse and the 
exercise of her pen, but thought it suitable to give 
up writing fiction, a decision which tells more for 
her honest fidelity to her convictions, than to the 
clearness of her reasoning power. Such fiction as 
she wrote was Truth exemplified principles em- 
bodied and wrought out and thus brought home to 
many minds not otherwise accessible. Multitudes 
of writers of the most enlightened Christian convic- 
* Life of Amelia Opie, by Lucy Brightwell. 


tions, in our time, wisely use the outward vehicle of 
fiction to convey the deepest truths of social life, 
and believe that imagination, like every good gift, 
was bestowed to be used, and consecrated in its use. 
However, let us honour a conscientious scruple in a 
great writer, even though it hampered her powers 
and impeded her influence. 

Her age was beautiful and dignified. Every good 
cause received her aid prominently the Anti-slavery 
Society, and the advancement of education : nor 
were the claims of the animal world neglected 
man's faithful dumb companions and servants. In 
a time when animal wrongs and sufferings were too 
often ignored, she ever showed and taught mercy 
as a Christian duty. 

Thus, amid her many elevated pursuits the years 
passed calmly on. She built a house for herself at 
Norwich, on Castle Hill, close to the old fortress 
she had known from earliest years, and amid the 
scenes she loved. The inevitably painful experience 
of advancing age that of the loss of early friends 
tried her affectionate heart ; but she was so loving, 
that she was sure to win love from a generation suc- 
ceeding those with whom she had set out in life. 
Miss Lucy Brightwell, her friend and biographer, 
and others paid her the tender attention of friend- 
ship as her infirmities increased. 

She was last in London at the Great Exhibition 
in 1851 ; and, in common with many noble spirits, 
hailed the " rich dawn of an ampler day," in hope 


that " fruitful strifes and rivalries of peace " would 
hasten the coming of the time when men should 
learn war no more. Sweet and holy anticipations ! 
not as yet realized, but sure to come ; for the mouth 
of the Lord hath spoken it. 

Mrs. Opie had become lame, but otherwise time 
had dealt gently with her. The beaming sweetness 
of her countenance remained to testify of peace 
within, and so, by gentle gradations, the end drew 
near. But her dismissal was not to be without a 
struggle. Her bodily sufferings for the last six 
weeks were severe, but were borne with all the pious, 
chastened resignation of a Christian. Amid great 
pain and weakness, she said to her cousin, " All is 
peace;" and afterwards to Mr. S. Gurney, "All is 
mercy." Brief, yet comprehensive testimony, rich 
in all the fulness of the gospel of Christ ! 

On the 2nd of December, 1853, she closed her 
long and valuable life, leaving not only her writings 
to delight, but her example to instruct, her country- 




" One in Christ." " Eich and poor meet together : the Lord is 
the Maker of them all." 

T must be a source of rejoicing to every 
reflective mind that examples of devoted 
lives may be selected from the most 
widely different spheres of social life. 
Faith in Christ, consecration of the 
heart, and devotion to the work He gives 
His faithful ones to do, is the strong bond of union 
that links together the lowly and the lofty who are 
His. Nor are we to suppose, as many young people 
of the middle ranks are apt to do, that the path of 
the rich and" noble is always comparatively smooth 
when they are led to think of religion, and to resolve 
to set out as spiritual pilgrims on the narrow way 
that leads to life eternal. Often, in proportion to 
the splendour of station is the amount of tempta- 



tion and hindrance. Loftiness of social position 
is frequently a stern limitation to freedom of action. 

Yet, as in all things the Christian can come off 
conqueror through Him that helpeth him, many 
examples are found in modern biography of women 
whose social status has exhibited the greatest pos- 
sible contrast, yet whose personal experience and 
life-work have plainly shown the oneness of their 
hope, and the true spiritual kinship of all believers. 

I propose giving my young readers a brief sketch 
of two lives, taken from entirely different classes of 
society, each of which teaches them a most valuable 
lesson for time and eternity. I select that noble 
Christian lady, the last DUCHESS OP GORDON, and 
the humble seamstress and pious philanthropist, 
SARAH MARTIN, of Great Yarmouth. 

I take the last first. In the early years of the 
present century, a young girl might be seen at 
Yarmouth going to and from her work as a dress- 
maker's apprentice. There was nothing remarkable 
in her appearance, except perhaps a look of keen 
observation and intelligent thoughtfulness. She 
was an orphan, and had been reared by an aged, 
pious widow, her grandmother. Some schooling 
. had been given her, and she was fond of reading 
in a desultory way. 

It is rather a curious fact in the mental history 
of the orphan Sarah Martin, that she had a positive 
dislike to religion and the books that inculcated it, 


the Bible especially. Many young people are in- 
different, or mere formalists in the matter of religion ; 
but I think very few indeed can charge themselves 
with so strong a feeling as dislike. 

At the time when Sarah Martin was a school-girl, 
the Bible was often made a lesson or a punishment 
book ; and but little was done to make its truths 
attractive or clear to the minds of the young. 
Pictorial aids, sweet narratives, poetic elucidations, 
and interesting questions were rarely used never, 
I may say, in the ordinary schools of the time ; so 
that the Scriptures seemed like a sandy desert, and 
young feet soon grew weary in traversing it. But 
our gracious Lord does not leave Himself without a 
witness, where there is a thinking mind. Frivolity 
and the love of pleasure are the thorns that most 
frequently choke the good seed of wisdom and 

At the age of nineteen, Sarah heard a sermon that 
impressed her, from the words : " Knowing the ter- 
rors of the law, we persuade men." This was a ray 
of light to her, but the dawn came slowly. It was 
however a great matter that, with the growing light, 
she was able to see herself as she was a sinner. 
She began to read the Bible and examine for her- 
self; but with at first no other result than great 
self-condemnation, and some confusion of mind 
from theological books. But as she beautifully says 
in her simple memoir,* " Seeing salvation, not in 

* Life of Sarah Martin, p. 9. Religious Tract Society. 


its commencement only, but from first to last to be 
entirely of grace, I was made free ; and looking 
upon a once crucified, but now glorified Saviour, 
with no more power of my own than the praying 
thief had upon the cross, I also found peace." 

This change of heart was followed, as, when real, 
it ever is, by a change of life. She began not only 
to search, but to love and rejoice in the Scriptures. 
The Bible was the companion of her leisure hours, 
and its precepts the guide of her actions. She was 
conscious that her former hardness of heart and 
dislike of religion had been a trial to the beloved 
aged parent who had protected her orphan child- 
hood ', and we can imagine the joy there was between 
the widow and the orphan when they were one in 
the faith and the hope of the gospel. 

" Did you ever despair of my conversion ?" she 
asked of her aged guardian. 

" No ; I always prayed for you, my child," was 
the reply. 

Ah, dear readers, what constant, hallowed incense 
of prayer is rising from loving hearts for many of 
you ! Long ere you could pray for yourselves, long 
after you have wilfully neglected prayer, the suppli- 
cations have been and are continued. Think of it, 
and give your pious kindred the greatest joy that 
you can afford them, the sweet assurance that their 
prayers are answered. 

It was quite in accordance with the true spirit of 
Christianity, that as soon as Sarah Martin's heart 


was right she should wish to be useful to others. 
Christianity is an active principle swift, cheering, 
and vivifying as light. 

She began, as many of our best young people 
begin to work for their Master, by teaching in the 
Sunday School. Here she found ready access to 
the hearts of the children of her class, and through 
them to their parents. Some memorable conver- 
sions through her instrumentality followed. 

Then she had a strong desire to visit the poor in 
the workhouse. Her wish was granted ; and here, 
too, she had almost immediate evidence that she 
was in the path of duty. District visitations, Bible 
classes and readings, home missionary activities, are 
all more modern plans of usefulness which existed 
not then ; and the sight to the sick and aged poor 
of a kind young face bending in pity over them, and 
a gentle voice pleading with them and reading to 
them, must have been as a revelation of Heaven to 
many whose hold on earth had been painful and 

In the workhouse, Sarah Martin's first work was 
found. She did not confine her ministrations 
merely to the aged and the sick. She very wisely 
sought to do good to the children, then more likely 
to be trained for crime than for anything else, in our 
pauper houses. Any man who could read, and per- 
haps write a little, was selected from among the 
paupers as schoolmaster, irrespective of character 
and fitness. Of three, whom she in the course of 


years came in contact with at the workhouse, two 
were drunkards, and one was a thief ! With her 
clear mind and sympathising heart, she pitied both 
the teachers and the taught, and strove, not in vain, 
to do them all good. 

But her special life-work commenced in 1819, 
when she was about twenty-six years of age. She 
then gained admission to the prison. Here her' 
plans were most practical. She set herself to shut 
out indolence, that seducer to crime, and her skill 
as a seamstress gave her great help in teaching the 
women and girls. She learned straw-plaiting and 
the making of bread seals, much used then, and 
some other occupations, so as to instruct the men 
in the prison. She knew that all reformation is but 
transitory that does not touch the heart and give 
some light to the soul ; so in much diffidence, yet 
with devout resolution, she began to give some 
religious instruction. She read the Scriptures on the 
Sunday, and taught and encouraged the prisoners 
to read, and instituted and conducted for them a 
devotional service, there being there then no gaol 

Meanwhile, of course her business, on which she 
depended for bread, suffered. She gave up one 
entire working day in the week to teaching in- 
dustrial pursuits in the prison. A lady paid her 
for another day, as if she were at work at dress- 
making, so that she might devote herself more 
fully to these waifs and strays of humanity. Then 



she set on foot plans to preserve the prisoners, on 
their release, from the temptations of drunkenness 
and idleness, and was the means of reclaiming 
many from the ranks of crime to tread the path of 

The Sabbath day of course was hers to spend, as 
the Lord appointed, in doing good to the souls of 
men. In her case we see what a blessed institu- 
tion the Lord's-day is ; how it affords to the world- 
weary and the criminal a means of spiritual refresh- 
ment and enlightenment; how the Christian, who 
has to toil for the bread that perisheth, may on this 
day break the bread of life, and rescue, from the 
hard grip of worldly business, time to do and to 
get good. Oh, dear young reader, cherish your 
Sabbaths ! 

Twenty-three years of continued usefulness were 
permitted to this devoted woman. For the first 
half of these her services were unnoticed by any of 
the influential of the earth. She did them to the 
Lord that was enough for her. Fees, reward, or 
praise, she never sought. Of course she had the 
iuward recompense of an approving conscience; 
and the sweet tribute came to her of the tear of 
repentance, the smile of humble gratitude, and the 
blessing of those who were ready to perish. 

But at length public sympathy was aroused. 
Inspectors of prisons and town councillors were 
startled into attention to her methods of reforma- 
tion. The prison and its inmates were so altered, 


they could not but notice it. Her simple history 
and humble means became known and honoured. 
She was compelled reluctantly on her part to 
receive some acknowledgment, and the sum of 
twelve pounds a year was forced on her acceptance, 
which, with the interest of some three hundred 
pounds that she inherited on her grandmother's 
death, comprised her means of livelihood. 

Very touching and sweet were the little addresses 
which she composed for the prisoners, and also 
for the workhouse children. Always warm from 
the heart, and vital with her own experience, were 
her teachings, and that made her so successful in 
winning souls from Satan's dominion. 

Never of robust health, her constitution became 
seriously impaired; and from April, 1843, to the 
October of that year, she became the tenant of 
a sick room, prostrated by a painful illness, from 
which, after much suffering, she was released by 
death. Her pen, during intervals of her pain, was 
used when she could no longer speak to those for 
whom she had laboured ; she wrote affectionately 
to them, and one address she prepared to be read 
to them the Sunday after her death. 

Her own summary is the best close to this sketch : 
"In the absence of all human sufficiency on my 
part, whether of money or influence or experience, 
it is plain that God alone inclined my heart, in- 
structed me by His Word, and carried me forward 
in hope and peace. Hence arises the boundless 


encouragement which it presents to others ; for the 
most humble individual may, in any department of 
the providence of God, build on the promises as 
firm as eternity. ' Whatever ye shall ask in my 
name, that will I do.' Yes ; for grace will prompt 
the prayer, and make it in accordance with the 
Divine mind and will." 

We are differently led j and such a work as Sarah 
Martin did is not appointed to many ; but all 
workers in the Lord's vineyard can emulate her 
self-sacrifice, her diligence, her faith, her love, and 
thus live blessing and blessed. 


was descended from the noble Scottish family 
of Brodie. Her mother died when she was six 
years of age. Two maiden aunts at Elgin then 
took charge of her, and though motherless, she 
had a happy, healthy, mirthful childhood. She 
was removed for education to a boarding-school 
near London ; and without anything in her career 
aut of the ordinary course of a young lady of her 
rank, she made progress in all that she was taught, 
and grew up dignified in person and graceful in 

Her father seems to have been careful to instil 


humility into her mind; and she seems always to 
have, remembered, as well as recorded in her 
journal, his saying, " If I did all I ought to do, I 
should still be an unprofitable servant." 

At nineteen, Miss Brodie was introduced into 
society, and was speedily much admired. She 
seems to have mingled with a gay circle, who 
thought that, if they gave a sort of patronage to 
religion by attendance at church in the morning, 
they might spend the evening in pleasure even 
at cards ! A reproof that sank deep came to this 
young lady from a very unexpected quarter. She 
was very fond of children, and a beautiful child 
of three or four years old being in the house she 
was visiting, she amused herself by playing with 
the little creature and winning its love. One day, 
however, when she called to her little playfellow, the 
child would not come, but turned away, saying, 
" No ; you are bad you play cards on Sunday." 
Struck to the heart by this admonition, she replied 
sadly, " I was wrong ; I will not do it again ; " 
and she resolutely kept her word. Who can say 
but that one little seed of truth, wafted on an 
infant's breath, sunk deep into the recesses of her 
mind to spring up vigorously in after-days. 

In 1813, she married the Marquis of Huntly, 
and for many years her life resembled that of 
other merely fashionable people. She was not 
blessed with children ; and she, and her lord, who 
was many years her senior, travelled much on the 


Continent, and saw the brilliant life of many great 
cities, as well as that of London and Edinburgh. 

This lady lived to record that her career was un- 
profitable and idle. She was not happy in this state. 
There was a latent perception that life was given 
for a higher purpose than dressing and visiting, 
laughing and talking that under the thin veil of 
pleasure there lurked selfishness and vice and 
her moral sense was aroused. In her distress, she 
sought refuge in her Bible, that fortress for the 
weary soul that asylum for the sin-sick spirit. 
The Scriptures soon became to her what they are 
to every earnest student a guide through the 
labyrinth of the world. 

One day she was found by gay companions read- 
ing the Bible, and they ventured to ridicule her, 
and spread a report that the Marchioness of Huntly 
had turned Methodist. The weapon of ridicule, 
while it alarms the weak, is often a useful goad to 
arouse the strong. Lady Huntly was not a person 
to be laughed out of her convictions. More than 
ever she resolved to persevere in a new endeavour 
to attain a higher life than she had yet lived, and 
grace was given her to begin to work for God and 
man with a zeal that never wearied. 

At Kimbolton Castle her entire change in the 
mode of employing her time was first known among 
her circle. Lady Olivia Sparrow, of pious memory, 
became her friend, and some few like-minded 
women of rank were her companions. 


In 1827, the old Duke of Gordon died, and Lord 
and Lady Huntly came from Geneva to take posses- 
sion of Gordon Castle. Lady Huntly was thirty- 
three years of age when she became Duchess of 
Gordon. Her distinguished rank only deepened 
her sense of responsibility. She had felt the 
burden of sin, and the sweet sense of release from 
that burden by being enabled to cast it off at the 
feet of Jesus; and nothing was stronger, as a. dis- 
tinct purpose with her, than to live by faith and 
prayer a life of usefulness. With- this purpose kept 
steadily in view, her coronet did not so much 
ennoble her, as she added a lustre to it. 

Of course she had her difficulties and seasons of 
depression, for her piety was likely to be misunder- 
stood and misrepresented. Once, when somewhat 
low-spirited, it is recorded in her life, she was 
visiting a ruined old castle on the Gordon estates, 
and saw some stone letters over a fire-place that 
none of the company could read. She pensively 
lingered after the rest, when on a sudden a sunbeam 
streamed through the hall, and she read in its light 
the words taken from an old version of the Bible : 


THE BEST." She recorded, " It was a message from 
the Lord to my soul, and came to me with such 
power that I went on my way rejoicing."* 

She resolved, as far as lay within her own pro- 

* Life of the last Duchess of Gordon. By Kev. A. Moody 


vince, to regulate her house in the fear of the Lord. 
Her discretion and sweetness prevented her pious 
plans from annoying the duke, who did not then 
see as she saw ; but instead of his being estranged, 
his affections were increased, for he knew that lofty 
principle guided her actions. When calamities 
came as a fire that destroyed one wing of Gordon 
Castle, and a great flood that not only devastated 
the duke's property but injured his poorer tenantry 
he said in his grief, " I have been unfortunate in 
everything except a good wife." 

The establishment of schools on her estate was 
the first work of benevolence on which the duchess 
entered. In these she took deep interest, visiting 
them herself and questioning the children, the 
infant school especially. A pretty incident is re- 
corded of a visit once made to the latter. She took 
a bright little boy on her lap, and put the question 
to the children who gathered round her knees, 
" What does Jesus mean where He says, ( Except 
ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into 
the kingdom of heaven ? '" Nothing is harder some- 
times (even to far elder folks than were listening 
to the duchess) than a definition, and therefore it is 
not surprising that she failed to get an answer. 
Turning to the child on her lap, she repeated the 
question ; and he said, " A little child kens (knows) 
that it can do naething its lane " (alone, or of itself) . 
It certainly was a beautiful exposition, never to be 
forgotten by the noble lady who once again heard 


from the lips of a child a blessed truth : " Out of 
the mouth of babes and sucklings He perfecteth 

The losses of property recorded, rather limited the 
Duchess of Gordon's liberality ; and her visitations 
and benefactions to the poor, her schools, and other 
charities taxed her personal resources to their full 
extent. In the spring of 1835, while the family 
were out at dinner, her jewel chest was stolen from 
their town house in Belgrave Square. Scarcely 
any but the plainest of her ornaments was left her. 
Her comment on this was, " My treasure is where 
thieves do not break through and steal.'" 

Queen Adelaide, who was a personal friend, sym- 
pathising in her loss, sent her a handsome present 
of her own favourite jewels a gift valued for the 
spirit of the giver, more than for any other worth. 

In 1836, the Duchess of Gordon became a widow. 
She had the inexpressible satisfaction of seeing that 
change of heart in her beloved husband which is 
the Christian's greatest consolation in bereavement. 
Her faithfulness was thus recompensed, and her 
deep sorrow sanctified. 

Removing to her dower house, Huntly Lodge, 
henceforth her life and fortune were devoted to 
extending the Saviour's kingdom. Her work in 
founding schools was followed by building places of 
worship. To this end, when she had not money to 
give, she devoted relics of former splendour. A 
gold vase, worth 1,200 was so dedicated. Then, 


in process of time, her jewels were again thus given. 
In former years she had recorded, "The duke 
allowed me to sell 000 worth of diamonds, quaintly 
saying ' that stones were much prettier in a 
chapel wall than around one's neck/ " 

Now that she had no one to consult but her own 
will, she cheerfully laid her ornaments on the altar 
of benevolence and piety. 

On the disruption of the Church of Scotland, on 
the subject of State patronage, the Duchess of 
Gordon took a most decided course. It is im- 
possible to do anything like justice in this brief 
sketch to so important a subject as the estab- 
lishment of the Free Church of Scotland. It is 
enough to record that, faithful to her convictions, 
the Duchess of Gordon helped forward what she 
believed to be the right. It was a trial a loss 
to her to be obliged to differ from many whom 
she loved and esteemed ; but we have seen enough 
of her character to know that she would not 
confer with flesh and blood, or be deterred by 
any worldly considerations in treading what she 
deemed the path of duty. Her course was resolute, 
and her name will ever be venerated among those 
faithful ministers of the Kirk, who were willing to 
encounter the loss of all earthly benefits, so that 
the purity of the Church, in their belief, might be 

Of course, for years there was turmoil and great 
searchings of heart; but yet, living among her 


schools and cottages, and doing her works of kind- 
liness, this honoured lady was kept in perfect peace. 

A severe illness in January, 1861, from which 
she recovered, was felt as a premonition of the end. 
She diligently began from that time to set her 
house in order ; comforting her heart by thinking 
of others, and devising good to the hundreds of 
children in her schools and to their parents. 

Her last illness was rather sudden, and it does 
not seem that she was aware of its alarming cha- 
racter ; but her life had long been a preparation for 
death. Holy living is what we should emulate, and 
leave the dying testimony to shape itself as the 
Lord directs. 

On Sunday evening, the 31st of January, in her 
seventieth year, she closed her eyes on this world, 
to open them in the land of the blest ; realizing the 
words of her favourite hymn, on the last words of 
Rutherford : 

"The sands of time are sinking; 

The dawn of heaven breaks ; 
The summer morn I've sighed for 

The fair sweet morn, awakes. 
Dark, dark, hath been the midnight, 

But the dayspring is at hand; 
And glory, glory dwelleth 

In our Immanuel's land." 




HERE are two poems sweet 
true poems, though written for 
infant lips made, like the 
flowers, to delight all minds, 
and which are probably more fa- 
miliar to millions of readers than any 
other verses in our language. They 
are " My mother/' by Anne Taylor; 
and "Twinkle, twinkle, little star/' 
by her sister Jane. 
These sisters were members of a sweet, congenial, 
united family, nearly unique in the annals of litera- 
ture. They inherited from a line of ancestors, dis- 
tinguished in a far nobler sense than by mere 
worldly rank, acute and penetrating intellect, energy 
and decision of character, accompanied by great 
self-control and perseverance. These are the quali- 


ties which, under the Divine blessing, lead to 

In the year 1781, a young married couple, aged 
respectively 23 and 22, set up their first home in 
lodgings at Islington. Their marriage dower con- 
sisted of love and faith towards God and each other, 
superior intelligence, and habits of industry and 
frugality. Isaac Taylor, the husband, was an en- 
graver, with no other certain income than half a 
guinea a week for three days' work, weekly provided 
for him by his elder brother, who was afterwards 
known as " the learned editor of Calmet's Diction- 
ary." This income, with thirty pounds in hand, 
and a hundred pounds in stock possessed by Mrs. 
Taylor, and furniture enough for their two pleasant 
rooms, comprised their pecuniary means for start- 
ing in life. Both these young people were endowed 
with those distinctive qualities which we call a 
character. Both were sincerely religious, showing 
forth their principles in their daily life. 

In January, L782, Anne, their gifted eldest child, 
was born. A year and nine months after, September, 
1 783, Jane, destined to be so well known and loved, 
was added to the household. A removal had taken 
place from what then was a rural suburb of London, 
to Red Lion Street, Holborn, and here their first son, 
who did not survive childhood, was given to them. 

If the father had now to toil very hard to main- 
tain his family, the mother's exertions were quite 
as great. She never allowed herself any recreation, 


and might have broken down both her mind and 
body in mere household drudgery, had not a friend 
wisely and kindly advised her ever to strive to be her 
husband's companion in higher things. This advice 
she so firmly acted on that she commenced a practice 
of reading aloud to him daily, which was of the 
utmost mental benefit and pleasure not only to her- 
self but to her young family. She became that rare 
thing then and not too common now a good 
reader, and exercised her mind on intellectual topics 
suggested by her reading. 

Some threatening of ill health, and the expense 
of rearing a family in London, determined Mr. 
Taylor to take a very resolute step, and remove 
himself and family into the country. After many 
inquiries, a spacious old-fashioned house and good 
garden were found at Lavenham, in Suffolk, for six 
pounds a year ! No such dwelling could be found 
now for treble that price. Here, far from all 
ordinary postal or coach communication, amid 
humble, kindly, sensible neighbours, and in whole- 
some retirement, began a system of domestic living 
and home instruction for the children, which, 
whether judged by its immediate or after results, 
must be pronounced as admirable as it was un- 

Mr. Taylor, whose Christian zeal was most earnest, 
set up a Sunday School for the poor children of the 
place about the time when Mr. Eaikes of Glou- 
cester began the great work there, which has led to 


such wonderful results. Sunday School work led 
to his giving addresses, which were prized by the 
parents and others ; and so, without intending any- 
thing but Christian usefulness to his neighbours, 
he almost unconsciously became a preacher of the 
gospel. Evidently he was one of those called of 
God, and led by a way he had not anticipated into 
the, Christian ministry. 

In 1848, Anne (then Mrs. Gilbert) wrote in the 
Sunday School Magazine an account of her father's 
beginning a Sabbath School sixty years previously. 

Mrs. Taylor had with very great reluctance, 
amounting to anguish, consented to the removal of 
the family to the country. Soon the garden and 
rural beauty around " won her heart." She lived 
fully to assent to the words of one of her daughters, 
that it was " a happy seclusion." Here the children, 
the sisters especially, made their own amusements. 
Jane asked to have a brick pig-sty (!) given to 
her, which she cleared out for a house, and here the 
study and the play of the two little girls went on 
most joyfully. The finding out occupations for 
themselves, and a certain independence in the 
selection of pursuits, aided by great activity, made 
them very happy children. 

Mr. Taylor pursued his profession as an engraver, 
having continuous employment from London, 
which of course he had occasionally to visit. Except 
at these absences, the children were the companions 
of their parents; they listened to their mother's 


reading aloud, picked up subjects of thought and 
conversation, and were thus being educated in the 
best sense of intelligent yet deferential familiarity ; 
good manners, kindly feelings, and useful arts were 
all gained in that happy household. 

The family had to mourn some losses of infant 
members ; but one brother was born at Lavenham, 
whose name holds an honoured place in the best 
literature of this age : Isaac Taylor, the author of a 
long list of most valuable and suggestive books. 

The times between 1789 and 1795 were hard, in 
every sense. Provisions were dear, taxation high, 
labour ill remunerated, and persecution, both re- 
ligious and political, rampant. In such a time the 
fine arts could not flourish, nor could a Dissenter, 
however mild and blameless his life, escape insult 
and danger from an ignorant and excited populace. 

Mr. Taylor had gained great mastery in his pro- 
fession, and during some part of the time he resided 
at Lavenham obtained large sums for his engrav- 
ings, some of which became celebrated ; one in par- 
ticular, from Opie's historical picture of the murder 
of David Eizzio. 

But troubles came. A dangerous illness brought 
the dear father to the brink of the grave ; and the 
anxious wife and mother, always of an extremely 
sensitive, tender nature, was worn to a shadow by 
her incessant cares, even though she knew better 
than most where to go for strength. It is not pro- 
mised that the Lord's people shall escape trials; 


many of the very best have to struggle on "through 
great tribulation." But help comes to them in the 
struggle. Mr. Taylor recovered, and his ministra- 
tions were so valued, that his spiritual teaching was 
sought after and spoken of far beyond Lavenham. 
The Independent Church at Colchester gave him 
an invitation, which he accepted; the family leaving 
their Lavenham home with sincere regret, but yet 
as a call of duty. 

Anne and Jane were respectively fourteen an-d 
thirteen when they went to reside at Colchester. 
Quiet, observant, graceful girls, very merry among 
themselves, yet with those bashful, retiring man- 
ners not so much seen now as in former times. 

They had already begun to use their pens ; and 
they neglected no opportunity of improvement 
which came in their way among a more extended 
circle of young friends; always being careful to form 
friendships with the best companions. 

In study, in a full share of household duties, in the 
care arid teaching of their younger brothers, super- 
intended in all things by their admirable parents, 
their first years at Colchester were passed. One 
indulgence they had which, in their own estimation, 
they considered was a valuable aid in the formation 
of their mental and spiritual characters a little 
separate study for each. It might be, and was, but 
a slip from an attic chamber, a lumber closet cleared 
out, or a recess partitioned off; but each of the 
girls and boys, as they could use it, had respectively 



this kind of retiring-place of their own. How much 
of individuality and thoughtful habit was doubtless 
promoted by this plan ! In " Home Education " * 
this opportunity of seclusion is insisted on as most 
essential to the growth of a reflective character. 

During this time, as indeed always, Mrs. Taylor 
may be called the governess, and her husband the 
tutor, of the family. The latter, carefully reflecting 
on the difficulties of the times, resolved to give his 
daughters knowledge of an art by which they could 
gain their own living if he were taken from them. 
So, in 1797, when Anne was sixteen, the father 
brought the girls into his workshop (studio we 
should now call it) and taught them drawing and 
engraving. Art education for girls was then not 
thought of ; but the father in this household was 
a man beyond his age in many things, and his 
gifted daughters amply recompensed by their pro- 
gress the pains he took with them. 

No apprentices could work more continuously 
than did Anne and Jane with their graving tools 
and etching needles. They had an hour for dinner, 
half an hour for tea, and when the evening hour of 
release came, and they were free to follow their own 
pursuits, the time seemed so short which they had 
for reading or composition, that they acquired, 
during all that time of year when daylight aided 
them, the valuable habit of early rising. 

The faculty of verse was soon manifested by both 
* By Isaac Taylor. 


sisters, and greatly delighted in by them ; but the 
higher gift of poetic feeling and perception of the 
beautiful in nature, in human life, and in art, was 
also theirs. Anne was the first that ventured into 
print; some stanzas in "The Minor's Pocket Book" 
induced her to attempt something of the kind. A 
prize of six copies of the work was offered for some 
rhymed solutions of enigma or charade. She wrote 
what was required, under the name of " Juvenilia/' 
and had the joy a secret pleasure then to find she 
was successful. To this little work she continued 
to contribute for some years, afterwards became 
its editor, and only gave it up on her marriage. 

Children's books were then very rare, and very 
poorly executed. Dr. Watts seemed to have no 
successor in teaching great truths in simple lan- 
guage to the young. Messrs. Darton and Harvey 
were then the publishers of children's books, and 
the writings of " Juvenilia/' and afterwards of the 
same contributor under the name of " Clara," 
attracted their attention. Some plates for their 
juvenile works were executed by the sisters Anne 
and Jane, and an offer was made them, in 1800, to 
exercise their talents in writing for the young. 

Never were youthful aspirants more fitted for the 
sweet and important work of giving instruction to 
the opening mind. They had feeling, fancy, tender- 
ness, piety ; and thus the joint work began, which, 
as "Original Poems for Infant Minds," was to enjoy 
such a well-deserved popularity, and to remain 


unsurpassed, after three-quarters of a century emi- 
nent for its literary activity and excellence. 

It is characteristic that the sisters though well 
knowing, by its want, the worth of money were 
comparatively indifferent to pecuniary recompense. 
The delight of composition, the joy of finding they 
were doing good to the young, and the approval of 
many contemporaries, whose name and fame they 
had admired, without ever thinking they should know 
and be known by them, was a priceless recompense. 

The " Hymns for Infant Minds " was a still 
higher effort of genius. Recognised as among the 
best writers for the young, from the time of its 
publication and great success, constant literary work 
was engaged in by both the sisters. It was a 
beautiful trait that each esteemed the other better 
than herself. No such feeling as rivalry was at 
all possible in such lovely natures, so elevated by 
grace and truth. Somehow, the world was led to 
ascribe rather the higher attributes to Jane. It 
arose from their supposing many of her sister's best 
poems to be hers. But in a careful analysis it 
would be very difficult and surely where each is 
so excellent, needless to assign any superiority. 
The elder was permitted to live out a long and 
most complete life ; the younger died in the zenith 
of her power ; and it may be that the loving reve- 
rence, both of relatives and readers, so hallowed her 
memory, that the survivor, for a time, was over- 
shadowed by the radiance of her fame. 


Both sisters wrote clear, graphic, elegant prose, 
as well as poetry. Jane's "Contributions of Q.Q.," 
and her story of "Display/ 1 and other writings, 
prove her skill. But Anne was a journalist and a 
reviewer. She wrote for The Eclectic in its palmy 
days, when some of the leading minds among our 
great men as Revs. John Foster and Robert Hall 
were contributors. It was not until the recent 
publication of Mrs. Gilbert's Life, one of the most 
interesting biographies of our time, prolific as it is 
in this department of writing, that her real genius 
was known. 

Removal to Ongar, in Essex, and the residence 
there during the last eighteen years of their father's 
life, has caused people to speak of the household as 
if Ongar was the only locality associated with their 
celebrity. It certainly was a very dear and memo- 
rable residence to them all, consecrated both by life 
and death. 

On December 24, 1813, Miss Anne Taylor was 
married to the Rev. J. Gilbert, then the classical 
tutor at Rotherham College ; and for some years 
after, though her literary pursuits were never en- 
tirely relinquished, the cares of a rapidly-increasing 
and large family demanded her attention, and she 
proved to them and to their father, a tender 
guide, instructress, helper, companion, friend the 
same inestimable wife and mother that her own 
early home had possessed. At Rotherham, at Hull, 
and finally at Nottingham, she was the centre of a 


household that emulated and inherited her virtues, 
and of a wider circle that loved and honoured her. 

Jane was for some years after her sister's marriage 
more closely associated with her beloved brother 
Isaac, and the most tender friendship subsisted be- 
tween them. As Isaac's health was delicate, and 
the youngest child of the family at Ongar was a 
daughter, Jemima, who became the devoted attend- 
ant on her mother, Jane went with her brother to 
Devon and to Cornwall. At Marazion, in Mount's 
Bay, many of Jane's later works were written ; and 
it was no small comfort to the good father in his 
declining years, and to the mother, as delicacy of 
health, increased by her deafness, pressed on her, 
that Jane was realizing an independence by her 

It is strange to read that although their father 
wished to make his daughters artists, he at first 
shrunk from their being engaged in literature. " I 
have no wish that my daughters should be authors," 
he had said, when their honourable career was first 
opening before them. He lived to retract that 
wish ; for not only his daughters, but his wife, when 
released by years from the pressure of domestic 
cares, became a very successful writer on domestic 
and educational subjects. Her pen was the solace 
to Mrs. Taylor's infirmities ; and the substitute for 
the companionship of her children, as they had to 
leave the " old house at home." 

In the year 1823, Miss Jane Taylor's health began 


to fail. She had symptoms of a painful malady; 
but her patience and hopefulness prevented her 
family for a long time from thinking her case so 
serious as it was. Her brother Isaac was to her 
the same devoted friend that she had, during his 
illness, been to him. After trial of other places, in 
search of health, Jane returned to Ongar ; and, as 
her strength declined, it was her beloved brother 
who carried her up and down stairs, and tried by 
every means, aided by the solicitude of the tenderest 
parents, to cheer the sufferer. And she was cheered; 
for heavenly support was given her, and her mind 
was stayed in perfect peace. 

The decline was so gradual, that the end was 
rather sudden. She herself was the first to an- 
nounce the change she felt. On the 13th of April, 
1824, she cheerfully said, e< Put me on a clean cap, 
and set the room to rights, for I am going." In 
answer to an inquiry of her father's, she said, 
in a firm voice, " Though I walk through the 
valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil ; " 
and then lay quite still. About a quarter of an 
hour before her death, her youngest brother, 
Jeffrey, asked her if she felt any pain. She 
replied, " No, dear ; only a little sleepy ; " and 
soon after, with one long sigh, she died * to the 
deep grief and loss of her parents and family to 
her own eternal gain. 

* Autobiography and other Memorials of Mrs. Gilbert, 
vol. ii. p. 49. 


One shrinks from thinking what the grief of 
such parents must have been for such a daughter. 
But they were true Christians, and therefore their 
consolations were not few nor small. 

Not quite five years after this loss, the family 
were bereaved of their beloved father. He was, 
notwithstanding several attacks of illness, full of 
mental vigour to the last. He died suddenly, on 
December 12th, 1829. His wife his other self 
did not linger long after him. In five months her 
spirit was released from the fetters of the body, 
and went to join her husband in praising that dear 
Redeemer in heaven, whom they had so long 
devoutly loved and followed on earth. 

Mrs. Gilbert, as before stated, lived what may be 
called a complete life. She sustained every rela- 
tionship and responsibility daughter, sister, wife, 
mother, widow, friend excellent in all. She 
retained her youthful feelings and cheerful sympa- 
thies to the age of eighty-four. Her latest writings 
showed no abatement of mental power, while her 
noble mind, enlarged by her greater experience, 
hailed every sign of progress in female education, 
in social and political reforms. She was not visited 
by any severe illness, nor, except a slight deafness, 
with any infirmity. Still she was ready ; her lamp 
ever burning, and her spirit waiting for her 
Saviour's call. 

She wrote up her diary, had settled all her 
yearly accounts, for Christmas was approaching; 


and with a smile, kissing her daughter twice, 
saying, first " That's for ' thank you ; ' " and then 
again " and that's for ' good-night/ " she retired 
to rest. 

The next morning, the family could not rouse 
her. She slept gently on still slept. The day wore 
on to night, and still she gently slept ; once there 
dawned a slight shadow of a smile then the 
breathing was a little heavier and then, with a 
single sigh, the land of clouds and death was left 
for that of light and life, on December 20th, 1866. 

" Oh ! not 'tilt brittle walls, 

' Till life's gay glittering show, 
'Till each in ruin falls, 

Shall the freed spirit know 

Its growth, its strength, its native skies. 

Poor captive soul, awake, arise 1 " 

Butler &. Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London. 

University of California 


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